My friends on the Trib Braintrust have been on this story for a few months. This is from March:
A special prosecutor must investigate whether the Obama administration offered U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak a high-ranking federal job in exchange for dropping his Democrat primary challenge to U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter.I heard Jim say something like, "Same as Watergate - the coverup is worse than the crime."
Rep. Sestak made that claim during a February radio interview. He didn't bite. A White House spokesman says whatever conversations there were "are not problematic."
But U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight committee, says this "has all the makings of a cover-up" of bribery, election interference by government officials and political use of federal jobs. If he doesn't get White House answers by April 5, he'll call for a special prosecutor.
The alleged violations carry jail terms of up to one year. And with White House wagons circling to protect Sen. Party-Switcher, a special prosecutor is warranted.
Too bad, (and my apologies to any Gertrude Stein/Alice B Toklas fans reading this) but there is no there there and there hasn't been for a long time.
The AP from February:
Ethics attorneys in Washington said such offers are common.And Marc Abinder at The Atlantic said the same in March:
Melanie Sloan, director of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, described it as “politics as usual.”
Now, trading an administration job -- a thing of value -- for a political favor might well constitute bribery. It is also very common. A Nexus search turns up numerous examples. In 1981, President Reagan offered S.I. Hayakawa, then California's senior senator, a job if he declined to run for reelection. We know this because Reagan's chief political adviser admitted as much on the record.Reagan did it? I wonder if Jim Quinn or the Trib Braintrust knows this.
Talkingpointsmemo has something more recent:
Even those who used to prosecute public corruption cases agree. "Talk about criminalizing the political process!" said Peter Zeidenberg, a former federal prosecutor with the Justice Department's Public Integrity unit. "It would be horrible precedent if what really truly is political horsetrading were viewed in the criminal context of: is this a corrupt bribe?"Yes, that's exactly what it is.
And Melanie Sloan, a former federal prosecutor who as the head of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington isn't known for going on easy public corruption, concurred. "There is no bribery case here," she said. "No statute has ever been used to prosecute anybody for bribery in circumstances like this."
Sloan added that Issa's move was more about politics. "It's not at all about whether there was actual criminal wrongdoing," she said. "It's about how to go after Sestak."