May 24th, 2010
07:52 PM ET
12 years ago

Sestak, White House dodge questions about job offer

Washington (CNN) - Pennsylvania Senate candidate Joe Sestak and a close aide to President Obama both dodged pointed questions Monday about whether White House officials pressed Sestak to drop his Democratic primary challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter in exhange for an administration job.

Sestak defeated Specter in last Tuesday's primary, but three months ago, when he faced longer odds against his Democratic opponent and his backers in the administration, the Philadelphia-area congressman said that someone in the White House offered him a job on the condition that he quit the race.

Sestak has refused to reveal any more details about the job offer - a pattern he continued Monday in an interview on CNN's "John King USA."

"I will let others speak for themselves," Sestak said when asked whom he talked to at the White House. "You and I should be talking right now about how people are slammed in this economy."

"I have said all I am going to say on the matter," Sestak said when asked again, insisting that he has explained his role in the matter "with integrity."

The congressman said he had to end the interview so he could vote on the House floor.

White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod told King earlier in the show that if White House officials offered Sestak a job in exchange for abandoning the Senate race, it would constitute "a serious breach of the law."

But he said unnamed White House lawyers "looked into" the talks between White House officials and Sestak. "And their conclusion was that it was perfect, the conversations were perfectly appropriate," Axelrod said, adding that he "was not a party to the conversations."

Pressed on the matter, Axelrod would not say whether the White House planned to reveal which officials had conservations with Sestak.

Filed under: 2010 • David Axelrod • JKUSA • Joe Sestak • John King USA • Popular Posts
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. L Palm

    Frankly who gives a fat rat about it. People get over it and stop trying to make a big deal about it. It just so sad that everything is turned into a political fight. If the truth be known how many times have this happen before.
    .Can we FOCUS on Fin-reform and Energy Reform besides the only reason Sestek said anything was because he thought he was going to lose otherwise he wouldn't have uttered a word..smh

    May 24, 2010 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  2. Maria

    It cannot, by definition, be illegal to expect someone whom you offer a job to DO THAT JOB rather than go off and run for Senate. It doesn't matter what the White House's motivation was. What they did was not illegal. Continuing to harp on this is sensationalism. The press needs to stand up and do its job which is reporting real news. But it seems the press would rather take the easy way out and repeat ad nauseam what it thinks makes good entertainment.

    May 24, 2010 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  3. Discernment


    If Dick Cheney is allowed to 'keep private' his discussions with oil companies regarding the nation's energy policies, so much so that not even GAO was allowed to know any details . . .

    . . . than Congressman Sestak and the White House should be allowed to keep private their discussions regarding Sestak's political career opportunities. 🙂

    May 24, 2010 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  4. indy

    It's amazing how Congressman Sestak doesn't think this job offer should matter now when he's the one that made the offer public in the first place. If there was an offer, the administration better realize they did something wrong. I realize that thought is impossible for some to believe. If he's lying, that should come out too. I'm sure those types of offers are made all the time. Sestak just refused to stay quiet about it and now someone needs to admit what really happened. It's either a crime took place or the Democratic candidate for Senate in PA is a liar. Either way right now, he doesn't have my vote.

    May 24, 2010 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  5. joe m

    this story continues to hurt the WH especially since they keep dodging the matter, and it promises to hurt Sestak as it now gives his repulican opponent a powerful issue to pound him with. it would be no surprise to me if the republicans capture the seat. it would not surprise me either if polls inquiring if voters believe if this is trully the most transparent WH return with dismal results. Sestak said he was offered a job by the WH if he'd withdraw from the senate race. The WH confirms that conversation/s took place. These facts are not in question. However, what remains vauge and possibly questionable is whether the WH was involved in a quid-pro-quo situation or at the very least an attempt to influence a senate primary election. if transparency is still the goal of this WH then they ought to appoint a special prosecutor, and not just anyone, but a right leaning individual who will not simply give them a pass. if that person determines that nothing untoward took place then let the matter rest.

    May 24, 2010 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  6. Capt. Snarky

    Funny how that "Transparency" thing the President promised us dissolved so quickly isn't it? But, Hey, I feel OK if a couple of "unnamed White House Lawyers" gave these conversations the "OK". Because we all know lawyers never do anything that isn't "above board".......

    C'mon, People – Wake UP! Even in the days of Obama, a BRIBE is still a bribe. Sounds like a commission needs to look into these allegations, and we need to hear the President come clean – on the record.

    May 24, 2010 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  7. Four and The Door

    I refuse to believe that President Obama would try to use a job offer in his administration for political reasons rather than selecting the best qualified candidate for each and every job. I mean, take Secretary of State Clinton for instance. She got that job because, well because...well I can't think of a reason she would be qualified for that job but President Obama does not do that kind of thing. That's the way Washington used to work before. This administration is all about changing that, remember?

    May 24, 2010 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  8. Mack-FL

    Oh like THAT kind of deal has NEVER happened before EVER in politics? Oh NO!
    EVERYTHING in DC is a "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" proposition because Americans are too stupid t elect people with actual integrity.

    May 24, 2010 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  9. southern cousin

    Another impeachment count. Let;s get it over with. I thought that the country could survive four years of a corrupt, inept president, we did with Jimmy Carter. It is now clear that we can't. IMPEACH this arrogant idiot as soon as possible and it is possible now. So much criminal behavior. Yes, the SEIU will lose their figurehead, but I don't think we can survive the full term of this slimeball.

    May 24, 2010 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  10. mamacoo

    So what is the big deal? If the White House offered, he didn't accept and he ran in the election. HE WON THE PRIMARY !! What exactly is the problem besides the right trying to make something out of nothing.

    May 24, 2010 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  11. Patty Patriot

    If sestak is lying he's killed his political career. If obama and his regime are lying that's a felony. Looks like this is a no win situation.

    May 24, 2010 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  12. ib

    He should be forced to give names since he used it in his campaign. I don't like Spector either but details of this need to come out.

    May 24, 2010 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  13. leaning right....

    highly illegal, either sestak is lying or this administration has committed an impeachable felony. one thing for sure is this is way to big to just go away, no matter how hard these chicago thugs try, this is not going away! their handling of it really suggest complete and utter guilt. someone is taking a bullet for the president on this one. come nov you'll see congress get to the bottom of this! lol

    May 24, 2010 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  14. Vince

    A naval admiral is willing to help cover up a potential federal crime...interesting.

    May 24, 2010 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  15. Brenda

    So, the Obama Admin investigated the Obama Admin to determine if they did anything wrong-–and they determined that there was nothing wrong.

    Is this a joke???

    I guess that Rod Blogoavitch should have been able to do his own investigation as well--to determine if he did anything wrong when he tried to sell the senate seat.

    Based on what I have read-–Rep Darrell Issa of California is demanding an independent investigation regarding this issue-–and I hope that he does not give up.

    A correct, thorough, independent investigation needs to be done--so that the entire country knows the truth--before the elections in November.

    May 24, 2010 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  16. CaDreamUSA

    I am just glad to see a true moderate democratic congressman win in PA

    May 24, 2010 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  17. Larry

    "Someone" in the White House offered him a job? Three months ago when he faced longer odds?

    This guy's another flake politician. They're coming out of the woodwork now.

    May 24, 2010 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  18. ehwilson429

    well someone is lying.
    it doesn't appear that Sestak has a reason to lie.

    so it's probably Rahm Emanuel.

    May 24, 2010 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  19. todd

    Follow the trail it will allways lead back to Obambi...Nov. cant come soon enough!

    May 24, 2010 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  20. Chris Stokes

    Im an Obama supporter and voter. So if Sestak has something to say then say it.

    May 25, 2010 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  21. phoenix86

    Another prime example of a White House with no moral compass or character whatsoever.

    May 25, 2010 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  22. Bruce

    Well let's see here. If the WH did offer a job that would definitely be illegal (even impeachable). I don't know but expect the WH or DOJ to find out. Maybe it was Rahm – he needs to go anyway.

    If Sestak is lying – well then he still would need to face the UCMJ. Being very famaliar with the UCMJ I will explain. Lets start with a false official statement and finish with false accusations of misconduct by the WH. Both are found in the punitive articles. If he was lying, both are punishable by Court Martial. He is drawing a military retirement and is thus subject to the UCMJ.

    If Sestak backs down, he stands to potentially go to E-1 with forfeiture of all pay and benefits. Will he risk that to protect the WH now that they are supporting him? Will the WH run interference and prevent this if he retracts? That would be another crime. I hope we will see.

    May 25, 2010 12:48 am at 12:48 am |