May 23rd, 2010
02:22 PM ET
12 years ago

Sestak: White House offered a job to keep him out of primary


Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak said again Sunday that the Obama administration offered him a job in an attempt to stop him from challenging Sen. Arlen Specter, who switched parties last year. (Photo Credit: Getty Images/File)

Washington (CNN) - Rep. Joe Sestak says he was offered an unspecified job by the White House in an attempt to stop him from challenging Sen. Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania's Senate Democratic primary.

Sestak, who defeated the veteran Specter in last week's primary election for the Democratic nomination, answered "yes" Sunday when asked by CNN about the White House offer. Sestak has previously acknowledged the offer in other interviews.

However, Sestak refused to provide any further details "about something that happened months earlier," saying "beyond that, there's nothing to add."

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs avoided a direct answer to a question about a job offer to Sestak, telling the CBS program "Face the Nation" that White House lawyers looked into any discussions that occurred and determined that "nothing improper happened."

"People who have looked into them assure me that they weren't inappropriate in any way," Gibbs said of the talks.

Republican critics have raised the issue as an example of what they say could be improper White House deal-making.

"Is it proper, ethical and legal for the White House to try to get a sitting member of Congress out of a race because they have other plans?"

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele asked on the "FOX News Sunday" program. "I don't know. The White House has to answer the question."

Filed under: 2010 • Joe Sestak • Obama administration • Pennsylvania • Popular Posts
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Save America, impeach the treasonous republicans

    The gutless republicans would have put a super secret hold on the nomination anyway, so he made the right choice.

    May 23, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  2. TTommy

    Sestak has made that statement many times. I would like to get to the bottom of it and find out if any laws were broken. I don't have an axe to grind either way. But if we cannot trust our government, we are lost as a nation. It is simply a matter of public confidence in our system.

    May 23, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  3. Robert Warner

    “FOX News Sunday”? Shouldn't that read "GOP News Sunday"?

    May 23, 2010 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  4. Justen in Florida

    So, we have a charge of attempted extortion or bribery, or quid pro quo, so, what's the follow up going to be, is there going to be any follow up?

    somthing tells me, not.

    May 23, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  5. Dave

    If this is illegal there are hundreds of K-Street jobs that are illegal. The GOP has used political power to line almost every department in our government. You don’t have to see the fiasco in minerals management to know how far the GOP has gone. If this is illegal I want everyone prosecuted not just Obama.

    May 23, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  6. Chipster

    If someone in the White House told Rep. Sestak that his impressive resume makes him a good candidate for a White House position if he were to drop out of the race or lose the Primary election, that would not be an official offer of a job but could certainly suggest that a job would be available to him. If he was not given a definite written offer of a specific position, then he was not offered a job. Both Sestak and the White House have reason to believe they are correct. Without a written offer, this is just a matter of opinion.

    May 23, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  7. Ken in NC

    Well Sestak has beaten Specter and while I am not big fan of Specter, there is something about Sestak that makes my gut very uneasy. There something about this man that is unsettling to me. I get it from the way he speaks. He never answers a question with a direct "YES" or "NO". Every interview I have seen him in when he responds to a question, he tends to lead it to something else as if to say he is not willing to discuss the topic being discussed. Thrown in a pit with rattle snakes and Sestak, for better odds, I would side with the snakes.

    May 23, 2010 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  8. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    What law was broken, if any, I think that should be the question. Everything the Democrats do is carefully thought out and meant to get a negative response from Republicans in order to open their Pandora Box. These Democrats are smart and are walking Republicans like you walk a dog.

    May 23, 2010 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  9. Larry

    I don't believe him.

    "Sestak refused to provide any further details".

    Maybe because there aren't any other details.

    May 23, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  10. A Red Herring From the GOP

    There is nothing there.

    Perhaps Joe Sestak was the recipient of a trial balloon discussion but that's about as far as it goes. At most some underling was tasked with feeling him out ... that's it.

    Due to stonewalling by the Republicans, the administration still has many important positions to fill. Some of those positions have been filled by current members of Congress, so clearly there is nothing wrong with Sestak have been topically approached or even having been extended ... and him having turned down ... an offer.

    May 23, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  11. jilli

    That's politics. This kind of stuff goes on all the time. Anyone that doesn't think so is naive or wilfully ignorant.

    This is a non-issue.

    May 23, 2010 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  12. Izzy

    Obama is like all the others....Washington as usual, but what did we really expect?

    May 23, 2010 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  13. Biased

    Beyond the fact that many experts have said it is illegal for the WH to have done what it did, I am sure the media will ensure this goes nowhere in their continuing love-in with the Obama name even though they complain now they are not getting the access to info they should be. It must really suck to know you have been played for all your worth when you were needed and then are now the next to get thrown under the bus.

    May 23, 2010 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  14. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    Republican critics have raised the issue as an example of what they say could be improper White House deal-making.

    "Is it proper, ethical and legal for the White House to try to get a sitting member of Congress out of a race because they have other plans?"

    Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele asked on the "FOX News Sunday" program. "I don't know. The White House has to answer the question."

    I GUARANTEE that if there were ANY chance that there was ANY illegal, unethical aspect to this situation, the Republicans would provide the information in minute detail.
    Since they have not (cannot) done that, they raise the question so that the stupid people will actually consider the possibility that the White House has done something wrong.

    May 23, 2010 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  15. Jason

    Wow, so the White House essentially tried to pay off a candidate the public favored so that the WH's personally favored candidate could win an election. A plan that would be funded by taxpayers' dollars as well.

    This administration once again shows it really has no regard for what the majority of citizens want.

    May 23, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  16. ib

    surprise surprise how many people have had their votes bought by Obama on the so called healthcare bill and everything else he wants done??????????

    May 23, 2010 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  17. Felonious Monk

    Happy to see Spector go, go, go...A sharp stick in the eye would be better than Spector.

    May 23, 2010 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  18. Save America, impeach the treasonous republicans

    The real story is that Fox makes up a story, and the right wingnuts go nuts. Once again, Obama even offered Sen. Judd Gregg a job, and fortunately he said, "No!" The right wingnuts say, "I B stupid!"

    May 23, 2010 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  19. Layla

    Time to haul this man before a Grand Jury and end this.

    May 23, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  20. Joan

    These things happen in politcs all the time. Don't you think the Republicans had lots of interesting talks with Charlie Crist. They are just trying to avert attention away from Rand Paul and his amusing statements. You can bet that they are going to have many, many "talks" with some of their Tea Party candidates this fall or else they may have some pretty interesting elections. This is part of politics and if it were illegal you can bet that more of this would have been made of this by now. The Republicans may want to be careful because this may cause the Dems to look really closely into all of their candidates and races. This is going to be a real interesting fall.

    May 23, 2010 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  21. Charles W. Skinner

    George Guadiane (below) – I seem to remember Democrat members screaming about "It's not the nature of the evidence, but the seriousness of the charge" in many, many items such as this, and then spending months or years doing investigations. It's not quite so comfortable when it's you're party on the pointy end of the accusation, is it?

    This is classic Chicago politics. Bribe, lie, cheat and steal in order to get an agenda that the public doesn't want passed over their objections. I wonder how Pres. Obama is going to hold up with a Republican controlled House of Representatives and an almost evenly divided Senate.... My guess, his agenda grinds to a halt, and he becomes a Lame Duck President.

    May 23, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |