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The Sestak Scandal In A Nutshell

The whole Sestak "job offer" scandal is getting a lot of heat, but very little light. And it's really not that necessary -- it's an exceptionally simple story. Here are the bare bones:

  • Admiral Joe Sestak (USN-Retired) is currently a Democratic Representative from Pennsylvania.
  • When Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania sought re-election, Sestak thought he could do better in that office than the long-term Republican recently turned Democrat could, so he challenged Specter for the Democratic nomination.
  • The Obama administration, keenly interested in keeping every Democratic Senate seat in Democratic hands, even as unreliable as Specter's, calculated that Specter would have a better chance of fending off the Republican challenger than Sestak did, and tried to dissuade Sestak from mounting the challenge.
  • According to Sestak, an unnamed member of the Obama administration offered him a very significant job (speculated to be Secretary of the Navy, but not confirmed) in exchange for his dropping out of the race against Specter.
  • Sestak has repeated the allegation numerous times, but has refused staunchly to elaborate on any more details: who made the offer, when the offer was made, or even what the precise offer entailed.
  • According to Karl Rove, such an offer would be a clear violation of federal law. Rove, who lived for years having to abide by the precise letter of those laws or risk indictment by "get Karl Rove" obsessed political enemies, cites three specific statutes that he believes the offer broke: 18 USC 600, 18 USC 211, and 18 USC 595. I'm no lawyer, but those laws seem pretty clear: the alleged offer broke those laws.
  • The Obama administration has had very, very little to say about the whole story. The most substantive thing they've said is, in essence, "we take this matter very seriously, we investigated ourselves quite thoroughly, and we did nothing wrong. We won't say who did it, when they did it, or precisely what they did, but no laws were broken, and you can trust us. In fact, you have to trust us, because we ain't saying any more."

That's where things stand. There's been a lot of stuff around the periphery of the story, but that's the core of it in a nutshell.

My own theory: when Sestak made his charge, he was running against the Obama administration. It was in that context that he "pulled a Biden" and let his mouth run away from him. (I don't know if he was exaggerating for political gain, or spoke the truth without realizing just how incredibly serious and illegal the deal was.) The administration, seeing no benefit in saying anything at all, clammed up until after the primary. And now that Sestak's the nominee, they're back on the same side, and it's in both their interests for this to go away -- without Sestak saying he was lying or the Obama administration admitting it broke the law.

Normally, in cases like this, a lot of rather interesting things would happen. When an official as prominent as Sestak makes this kind of charge, there would be flurries of denials and counteraccusations. But now that Sestak and the Obama administration's interests coincide in getting him elected in November, they both want to just bury it.

So, who will do the digging? Normally, it would be the Justice Department, under Attorney General Eric Holder. But they've already shown their utter disinterest in pursuing political crimes that might not reflect well on the Obama Regime (see the Philadelphia New Black Panthers case, where they shut down a prosecution where they had already won a conviction by default). Holder, obviously, isn't going to do squat about this case.

Then, perhaps, Congress? Well, the Republicans there are certainly raising a stink. And the case affects both Houses -- Sestak is a sitting Representative and the Democratic nominee for the Senate. Either one could claim jurisdiction, or they could do it jointly.

Yup. That's right. Who here thinks that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid will go along with that one? Get real.

The state of Pennsylvania? Come on. This is a question of federal law, not state law, and it's abundantly clear what this administration thinks of states stepping up and taking on issues and problems that the Feds refuse to tackle. Just ask Arizona.

One solution in such cases as this has been a Special Prosecutor. The administration finds someone with a solid reputation for investigating sensitive matters and asks them to dig into it, providing them with the resources they need but explicitly rejecting any authority or influence over their conduct. This sounds tailor-made for such a case, when one side has made a very serious allegation of criminal conduct, the other side refuses to issue more than a very vague and general denial, and neither side refuses to offer any more details.

Which is precisely why the Obama regime won't even consider it. After all, they investigated, they determined they did nothing wrong, and everyone should be happy with that, right?



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Comments (57)

As I understand it, offerin... (Below threshold)
James H:

As I understand it, offering plumb positions in exchange for playing political ball isn't that new. But typically, it's very oblique. Here, apparently, the error was that it was overt.

James, it's the difference ... (Below threshold)

James, it's the difference between "Nice shop youse has here, be a shame if anything wuz to happen to it" and "here's the deal: you pay us off, and we won't burn down your shop."

The crux is "plausible deniability." Here, the Obama administration apparently went across the line from routine political corruption into criminal conduct.


Jay Tea:Nice blog ... (Below threshold)
James H:

Jay Tea:

Nice blog youse haz here. Be a pity if somethin' happened to it.

Now, if the Obama administr... (Below threshold)

Now, if the Obama administration was competent, they'd have said something like "Representative Sestak, it's kind of a shame you are running for Senate. You see, we were just about to ask you to be Secretary of the Navy for us. While we think you'd be a wonderful Senator, we think you could do so much more for the country as SecNav. But if you have your heart set on a very risky campaign, challenging first a long-time sitting Senator and then a Republican challenger, could you then give us a few names of others you think might do OK in the job?"

Instead, they apparently said "Joe, we think Specter has a better shot of beating the Republicans than you do. Tell you what -- give up this race, and we'll take care of you. How does Secretary of the Navy Sound?"

In the first case, the law has been honored in letter, but hardly in spirit. In the latter, it's open and shut.


today's spin is:"... (Below threshold)

today's spin is:
"Sestak heard what he WANTED to hear"

Great. Vote for Sestak...he's not a liar, he just doesn't listen or remember well...but he'll make a cracker-jack Senator!!

As with Blumentahl, the LSM has a vested interest in forgiving all involved. Move along please...

Y'know, Jay, they may have ... (Below threshold)
James H:

Y'know, Jay, they may have been oblique about the job offer. Something like: "We're sure that you can serve your country in nearly any capacity, though we think Mr. Specter is best as senator." And Sestak could have interpreted it as a job ofer.

Ordinarily, I wouldn't think that Obama's staffers would be so dumb as to be overt. But then again, these same staffers apparently didn't see the importance of the prez going to Arlington Cemetery for Memorial Day.

(Yeah, that sticks in my craw. It's one thing for ordinary Americans to treat it as National Barbecue Day. But he's the freakin' president.)

This affair kind of makes o... (Below threshold)

This affair kind of makes one wonder if Obama offered the same type of deal to the Republicans that left the House and Senate or as in the case of Jon Huntsman. As most everyone knows, Huntsman is a very prominent Republican in the state of Utah and he was thinking about running for an elected office. Then there was Judd Gregg, a sitting Senator, that was offered a position in the Obama Administration. Gregg very wisely turned that offer down. This investigation might repeat might result in impeachment proceedings against Obama.

James, I can't believe you ... (Below threshold)

James, I can't believe you pre-emptively plagiarized my Mafia goon threat. For that, above all your other countless insults, I am tempted to banninate you.


Furthermore, failing to rep... (Below threshold)

Furthermore, failing to report the attempted bribe is in itself a felony. Sestak's not clean here.

Jay:You're just je... (Below threshold)
James H:


You're just jealous that I'm smarter, better looking, and I have all my hair. And that I can attract a -12 rating on Wizbang with much more panache than lee Ward.

James, that's an incredibly... (Below threshold)

James, that's an incredibly low standard. You can shart with more panache than Lee Ward can do anything.


The reality here is that no... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

The reality here is that nothing is going to happen until if and when the Republicans take control of Congress next year.

If the Republicans actually took control of both houses an interesting scenario could develop. And yes, I know this scenario is highly unlikely, but I can dream can't I?

Suppose it's found out that both Obama and Biden were involved and that criminal violations did occur. (The later being highly likely, the former much less so, or at least proving the former would be unlikely). Then congress impeaches both the commie and the clown and viola - we have President Bohner and our national nightmare ends 2 years early.

As I said, I can dream, can't I?

Jay,If he didn't h... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:


If he didn't have low standards, he wouldn't have any at all...

For goodness sakes, bryanD and BarneyG2000 have/had more panache than Lee Ward.


P. Bunyan,I always... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:

P. Bunyan,

I always say "If you're gonna dream, dream BIG!"


Whereas Biden is akin to a ... (Below threshold)

Whereas Biden is akin to a used car salesman, I don't see Sestak as a sleazeball. Seems to me people do not appreciate the reason why Sestak got into politics in the first place - it's only a Google search away!!! It might even tug at your tarry heart strings.
No, good for Sestak to tell the truth that a job was offered and if this harshes Rahm's mellow then that's two birds with one stone IMHO. The onus is on the Barry O admin to fess up if only because of the promised transparency.

PA-D,Sorry, but th... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:


Sorry, but that promise expired January 21, 2009.


This is not just that Sesta... (Below threshold)
jim m:

This is not just that Sestak was running against the administration. AFTER he won he repeated the charge on national TV. If this were BS he would shut his pie hole.

He has repeated the claim. The administration is silent. Something happened and the appearance is that they offered him a bribe. Neither side has offered anything to think the contrary.

The problem the dems have now is that they need to show Sestak as a pathological liar or the administration as a bunch of crooks.

Great job Sestak. You've done more for the GOP than Steele has.

"But now that Sestak and th... (Below threshold)

"But now that Sestak and the Obama administration's interests coincide in getting him elected in November, they both want to just bury it."

My feeling is that Sestak said this as a warning to Obama to stay out of the Pennsylvania primary race and not support Specter (as Barry had promised in exchange for Specter's supporting legislation Barry wanted passed). The unspoken threat (Chicago style - that Barry would understand), was if Barry campaigned for Specter, Sestak would make life very uncomfortable for the White House. Well Barry didn't campaign for Darlin' Arlen. Sestak won. Now it's in everyone's interest to 'make up'.

Today there was speculation that ol' "Snarlin' Arlen" might very well oppose any further legislation Barry wants - in appreciation for all the 'support' Barry showed him in the primaries.

Oh what a tangled web we weave..........

"Today there was specula... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

"Today there was speculation that ol' "Snarlin' Arlen" might very well oppose any further legislation Barry wants - in appreciation for all the 'support' Barry showed him in the primaries"

Specter prolly feels like about 2/3 of those who voted for Obama and actually believe the shit Obaba was feeding them on the campaign trail. (The other 1/3 of Obama voters were diehard commies who already knew Obama was lying, but had no problem with that.)

As most everyon... (Below threshold)
As most everyone knows, Huntsman is a very prominent Republican in the state of Utah and he was thinking about running for an elected office.
He had an elected office: he was Governor. He stepped down from that to take the ambassadorship Obama gave him.

Until the Bob Bennett thing I haven't had any particular interest in Utah politics, and I can't find anything about why Obama plucked Huntsman out of the first year of a second term as governor to send him out of the country. Absent good info, I'm tempted to fault Huntsman for accepting it.

Also, unless I'm mistaken t... (Below threshold)

Also, unless I'm mistaken there's an element to the background missing from Jay's post: Sestak had a Senate campaign already setting up before Specter's party switch. To some extent Sestak must have calculated that since he had planned to run against Specter anyway if Toomey didn't take him out, he was just as willing to beat him in May as November.

I am not even close to bein... (Below threshold)

I am not even close to being an Obama fan. As far from as you can get but on this count, they all do it. Purely political actions from purely political creatures. Sistak just couldn't shut up. Now that he did open his mouth, a special prosecuter will be named and the administration official will resign, etc. It would save a lot of time and money if that person would just come forward now and take his medicine. But I don't think so. You would have to act on what is best for the country. ww

"they all do it"I'... (Below threshold)

"they all do it"

I'm sure they do. But the 'unwritten' rule was that you don't talk about it. Sestak did. At the time, I don't believe that he thought it all the way through. And it rests on the HOPE that things in Washington won't CHANGE and that the Democrats will keep control. Sestak will say nothing further and if the Democrats keep their majority, they will keep it buried.

We should just start puttin... (Below threshold)

We should just start putting all the Obama Regime open positions on eBay.

Sestak could have bid his candidancy for the Senate against multiple positions he'd like to have.

Pat Toomey's campaign must ... (Below threshold)

Pat Toomey's campaign must be salivating over this.
Sestak will be painted as:
A) Delusional
B) Lying
C) Willing to cover a felony committed by, or on the behalf of, the White House.
D) Some or all of the above.

Sestak has put himself in t... (Below threshold)

Sestak has put himself in the position of 'the honorable man' who saw a murder committed. He dutifully called 911. Since no one else saw the crime (seeing as the victim is dead), the police now ask Sestak for his help in identifying the murderer.

Sestak has replied, "I am an honorable man. I called 911. My job is done."

It ain't flying with the public.

Arlen SpectreThe g... (Below threshold)
retired military:

Arlen Spectre

The gift that keeps on giving to the Dems.

Wonder if Sestak is working... (Below threshold)
retired military:

Wonder if Sestak is working with Hillary in the background (with a job for Sestak in Hillary administration).

Wonder if Sestak is working... (Below threshold)

Wonder if Sestak is working with Hillary in the background (with a job for Sestak in Hillary administration).

retired....man, have you got one devious mind!
That thought had not occurred to me. Anyone got anything on previous contacts between Hillary! and the retired admiral?

Personally, I think it like... (Below threshold)
Geoffrey Britain:

Personally, I think it likely that Sestak is telling the truth.

If Holder refuses to investigate, a Republican Congress can appoint a special prosecutor. Could that S.P. charge not only the responsible party in the administration but Holder with obstruction of justice?

Don't think Holder could be... (Below threshold)

Don't think Holder could be 'held' responsible. You'd be getting into the 'discretionary' thing. Not only that, I think the public is really getting tired of the "let's hang the previous administration." Even Barry wasn't that stupid. The far left wanted Bush prosecuted for 'war crimes'. Barry passed on it. I think the closest he and Holder came was trying to hang former DOJ lawyers who gave Bush legal advice as to what constituted 'torture'. They started......then backed off.

bryanD -Burger def... (Below threshold)

bryanD -

Burger defeated Mason twice during the series. Was Rove found guilty of any of the ethics allegations?

Jim2Well Jim, Rove... (Below threshold)
retired military:


Well Jim, Rove was found guilty of outing a CIA operator Valerie Plame.

Oh wait that was someone else and they werent charged.

Meanwhile the NY Times outed the CIA guys who were involved in questioning GITMO detainees and what have you heard about that? Nothing.

James H.,Was your ... (Below threshold)

James H.,

Was your craw all stuck-in-a-bunch when Bush-41 went 8 years without ever going to Arlington on Memorial day? Or when Saint Ronald made it 4 out of his eight years?

"So, who will do the diggin... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"So, who will do the digging? "

I think you left out one important group who is supposed to do precisely that: the press.

It would be nice if the MSM would do their jobs and really dig into this.

The "they all do it" excuse... (Below threshold)
Jim Addison:

The "they all do it" excuse ALWAYS works in criminal trials, btw.

There is a strong reason to believe Sestak's original contention in this case. It first came out just after it happened, and he was angry about it. It's the equivalent of an "excited utterance" a criminal defendant makes before being read his Miranda warning.

Also, it would have been very easy for the Obama Administration to say FROM THE START, OR NOW that, "Sestak has it wrong, no job was offered," or "A job was offered, but Sestak misunderstood and there was no quid pro quo." Either would be a feasible explanation and make it a he said - they said thing which no one would be fixated upon.

BUT they have never done that. ALL they can manage to say is "There is no evidence" of wrongdoing on their part after a full and fair investigation by people they appoint and whose paychecks and careers they hold in their hands.

WHY? Probably they are worried Sestak recorded the conversation. Perhaps when they privately asked him to retract or amend his statement when he made it, he may have said this - and may have been bluffing, but how would they know?

Rance proves <a href="http:... (Below threshold)

Rance proves JLawson's warning prophetic.

BTW, Rance, Bush 41 was pre... (Below threshold)

BTW, Rance, Bush 41 was president for eight years? Which years were those?

Rance - "Was your craw ... (Below threshold)

Rance - "Was your craw all stuck-in-a-bunch when Bush-41 went 8 years without ever going to Arlington on Memorial day? "

Now that's funny Rance... have you slinked away from this thread after showing your complete lack of history?

But hey I'll give you a break and assume you meant Bush 43. In that case you'd be woefully incorrect as well.

Bush 43 went to Arlington 7 of his 8 years. The eighth?

In Normandy, France on Memorial Day.

Easy Marc. Rance only know... (Below threshold)

Easy Marc. Rance only knows what DK or DU tell him. It's not like you should expect him to think or check things out himself.

I admit that I do not know ... (Below threshold)

I admit that I do not know where Bush 41 was on Memorial Days while he was Prsident. What I do know, however, is where he generally spent his Memorial Days during WWII.

Either that or he's just ba... (Below threshold)

Either that or he's just bad at orith...er... areith....ah...erithma....uh....math.

GarandFan"Anyone got... (Below threshold)
retired military:

"Anyone got anything on previous contacts between Hillary! and the retired admiral"

Sestak served as director of defense policy under President Clinton. Who knows what might go there.

Sestak endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton for president in the 2008 Democratic primaries.


In March 2006, the same Sandy Berger held a fundraiser for Joe Sestak's congressional campaign. The event raised tens of thousands of dollars for Sestak, whose spokesperson Allison Price was Director of Communications at Berger's DC Consulting and Lobbying Firm. The venue for the fundraiser was the Washington, D.C. law office of attorneys Janice Enright (Treasurer of Hillary Clinton's 2006 Senate campaign) and Harold Ickes, onetime Deputy Chief of Staff for Bill Clinton

So yes there are some ties back to Hillary. How strong? Who can say?

Sandy BergerJanice E... (Below threshold)

Sandy Berger
Janice Enright
Harold Ickes

retired - those aren't 'links'. Where I used to work it was called "a line-up".

If Holder doesn't act, I'm ... (Below threshold)

If Holder doesn't act, I'm betting in the next week Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania AG (and Repub candidate for Penn. govenor) will convene a grand jury and get Sestak under oath.

I can't WAIT.

Sandy BergerJanic... (Below threshold)
Sandy Berger Janice Enright Harold Ickes

retired - those aren't 'links'. Where I used to work it was called "a line-up".

Reads more like a line up on the Post Office wall. Forgot to add Mark Rich into that line up.

ak4mc,Marc,I stand... (Below threshold)


I stand corrected. It only seemed like Bush 41 was in office for 8 years to some of us. So he was 0 for 4, not 0 for 8.

And before anybody questions the Reagan numbers, I give him a bye on the year he was shot. He went to California to rest instead of staying in Washington.

I stand corrected.... (Below threshold)

I stand corrected.
47. Posted by Rance |


"It only seemed like Bush 4... (Below threshold)

"It only seemed like Bush 41 was in office for 8 years to some of us."

We know the feeling Rance. Barry's been in office 17 months and already it seems like EIGHT YEARS!

rance - "So he was 0 fo... (Below threshold)

rance - "So he was 0 for 4, not 0 for 8. And before anybody questions the Reagan numbers, I give him a bye on the year he was shot."

You could've given Bush 41 a bye for being SHOTDOWN in WW2. But you didn't.

Rance -- During Reagan's pr... (Below threshold)
James H:

Rance -- During Reagan's presidency, my craw wasn't stuck in a bunch. I was far more concerned with my GI Joes and my Transformers. I was a child.

Bush 41 -- I was a teenager. At the time, I was a bit more concerned about girls and getting my driver's license.

That said, when I learned recently that Bush 41 skipped Arlington one year to play golf in Kennebunkport, I did, ahem, stick in my craw.

And it annoys me now when Obama's doing it.

"Most transparent administr... (Below threshold)
Sir Toby Belch:

"Most transparent administration....evah!"
Right, Bammy. The Emperor still has no clothes,
and tailors are getting scarce. But I've heard
that Sestak Ltd. will make anything from
whole cloth at a moment's notice.....to suit
the discriminating client...anything that
"suits" the occasion.

James H,The year in ... (Below threshold)

James H,
The year in Kennebunkport, before the golfing, I believe George HW Bush attended a memorial service at the local American Legion hall.
I doubt Mediamatters, Kos or the othre usual supects mentioned that, or compiled a list of what past presidents have done after leaving Arlington various years. I suspect there were a few rounds of golf, BBQs, bicycle rides etc over the decades. :)

He visited the American Leg... (Below threshold)
James H:

He visited the American Legion hall? I didn't notice. I was chasing girls.

Just placing this here to k... (Below threshold)

Just placing this here to keep the record straight: the Reagan administration did the exact same thing the Obama administration is accused of, in offering a post to someone rather than have them run in a crowded primary.


The Reagan administration suggested that if [S.I. Hayakawa] drop out of the crowded Republican primary race in California, President Reagan would find him a job. That was in 1981. "I'm not interested", said the 75-year-old Hayakawa. "I do not want an administrative post."

So I presume this means that Reagan is either as crooked as Obama, or Obama is as innocent as Reagan - right?

This could have come from t... (Below threshold)

This could have come from the WH:
'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'

'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master -- that's all.'"
-- Lewis Carroll

Well, what this boils down ... (Below threshold)
Carol F:

Well, what this boils down to is"do we have a change or don't we have a change"---everyone keeps saying "this is the way it's always been---blah ---blah----blah--Well If I remember correctly, Obama said he was going to be different---his administration would be transparent----these are his words---Was he LYING?????






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