May 25th, 2010
06:03 PM ET
10 years ago

Sestak dodges questions on alleged White House offer

(CNN) - Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate Joe Sestak won an ovation at the weekly Senate Democratic lunch in the Capitol Tuesday, even as questions swirled about his allegation that the White House offered him a job several months ago if he would agree to stay out of a primary battle against incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter.

"I've already answered the questions," Sestak told CNN as he was standing outside the lunch waiting to be introduced. "I have nothing else to say about the matter."

Sestak made similar comments to CNN's John King Monday.

Sestak's refusal to elaborate came as the No. 2 Senate Democrat, close White House ally Dick Durbin of Illinois, called on him to "make it clear what happened."

"Congressman Sestak raised the issue,' Durbin said. "If there's been some confusion, I hope he can make the facts as clear as possible. Then, as far as the administration is concerned, they will react to it."

Sestak did get support from Sen. Bob Menendez, who as head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee must help Sestak win the general election now that he won last week's primary. Menendez said he doubts anything improper happened if the White House talked to Sestak about a potential job.

"My sense of this is there was probably an inquiry into what kind of public service do you want to perform. What are your interests? And at the end of the day he said I want to be a United States senator from Pennsylvania," Menendez said. "In my mind, that's the beginning of the end of it. I don't' think there is a lot here of great value or really great interest to the people of Pennsylvania."

Asked what Sestak should do to put the issue behind him, Menendez responded, "I think Sestak has to do what he feels is necessary to both clear the air and be able to get forward with the real issues that are important to the people of Pennsylvania."

At a news conference after the lunch, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said Sestak, a former Navy admiral, gave a "wonderful presentation."

He was introduced by Arlen Specter," said Reid. "There were not questions raised, other than a lot of support."

Should the White House say more about what happened?

"I know nothing about conversations between the Admiral and the White House, if in fact they took place," Reid also said.

Meantime, when Sestak left the lunch, he was followed by a half a dozen reporters who asked several questions about the job offer, but he steadfastly refused to give any additional details.
"Politics is not what I'm interested in," Sestak explained at one point. "I'm interested in one thing, how to change Washington."

Filed under: Joe Sestak
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. ib

    He should release all information on this since it was used in his campaign. If he refuses then court action or whatever action that is needed should be used to force him to give details and names on this issue.

    May 25, 2010 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  2. Jon In Madison

    Either he lied on the campaign trail, or the WH is involved in a scandal. Either way, we might have been better off keeping Specter on te ballot. This will be the downfall of the mid-terms

    May 25, 2010 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  3. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    I'm a Democrat.
    I don't have any more stomach for "shenanigans" from a Democrat than I did for "W"...
    If someone is lying, let's find out. If someone broke the law, let's prosecute them. I don't even care if it's the President...

    I am REALLY REALLY TIRED of an "above the law" mentality. If Sestak is just trying to look good, BURN 'EM. If the White House broke the law BURN 'EM _ Is that clear enough for you tin foil hat wearing ultra "Right" wing hypocrites who think that "Dems" always protect their own?

    May 25, 2010 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  4. rdepontb

    RADM (Ret) Sestak,

    You seem to be protecting someone with this vagueness in your responses and attitude toward the question of an apparent quid pro quo job offer if you chose not to seek the Senate seat in PA. You really do not need to do that; apparently whoever in the administration spoke with you about this is not going to come forward, not if he/she has not already. You know, certainly, that the longer this goes the worse will be the effect on you. We need your talents in the Senate, not on the sidelines, sir.

    May 25, 2010 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  5. Obama the liar

    just a democrap candidate acting like an obama, smoke, mirrors and lies.

    May 25, 2010 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  6. A Kickin' Donkey

    Senator Durbin's comments don't bode well for Mr. Sestak's version of the "OFFER".

    Remember, he is the senator from Illinois, the President's home state. I've got to believe he wouldn't be out there encourage Sestak to speak out if it could embarass the Administration.

    I'll bet Sestak took some political license when said he received an "OFFER".

    May 25, 2010 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  7. Dick Durbin

    "Perhaps you'd like to clarify what really happened, comrade. Or perhaps you'd like to stand in front of this wall while we take your picture."

    May 25, 2010 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  8. GI Joe

    When are you going to dog Cheney for all his really life-and-death war crimes? WHEN?

    May 25, 2010 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  9. GI Joe

    When journalists practice reactionary journalism just to keep their TV ratings up, it gets this way. Chase heresay instead of the war criminals and wal-street loving money grubbers that ruined the economy for the entire world.

    Journalism is dead – long live gossip and reactionary ratings.

    May 25, 2010 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  10. Barbara Independent in NY

    You know what? We have some real problems in this country–sky high unemployment, Wall Street and Banking corruption, homeless people, hungry people, the massive BP oil disaster, etc. I don't care about this. I don't care if Sustak was offered a job to stay out of the PA Senate race. File this under "Who Cares".

    May 25, 2010 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  11. Howard2, Seattle, WA

    More backdoor deals from the Obama administration. What else should we expect from someone who grew up in Chicago politics. Want healthcare to pass, buy off the Senator from Nebraska with freeby's, and offer some wimpy congressman a ride in Air Force One.

    May 25, 2010 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  12. Dan, TX

    Yeah, who's going to stand up for Joe Sestak and protect him from the Obama administration?

    May 25, 2010 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  13. Howard2, Seattle, WA

    Not surprising that Sen Menendez does not see anything wrong with the ethics in this situation. Just another of our elected officials who chose to look the other way. The Boeing CFO went to prison for offerring somone a job,

    May 25, 2010 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  14. donna

    Either Joe Sestak is lying about what ocurred or the white house is so let's have the truth as it will impact how many of us in Pennsylvania may vote this november for senator.......If Sestak leaves it like it is we have to assume that he is the one that is making up facts!

    May 25, 2010 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  15. Red by Choice

    This is a nice little Democrat bribery scandal. Think the Dimocrats in congress will allow an investigation? Nah, it just isn’t necessary, Obama could not possibly do anything wrong.

    May 25, 2010 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  16. The Sestak offer is a crime under the law.......

    when is the investigation by the Justice Dept. or Congress starting?

    May 25, 2010 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  17. Biased

    Why is the White House trying to keep this a secret – if they did nothing wrong then why can't they say what they did? Unfortunately if I lived in Sestak's state he would now be the last person I would vote for. If they are both going to keep quiet, then I will automatically assume, whether rightly or wrongly, that one of them is telling a lie, and if nothing is improper then why won't anyone talk about it? Until the facts come out, both Sestak and the WH lose on their credibility levels.

    May 25, 2010 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  18. thor

    So ,now that he's won the dems primary the fact that laws may have been broken doesn't matter to him.Gee, this is a fine example of politicans getting what they want no matter how or what the cost is.It was important till he won,now it doesn't seem so important.Just the kind of politician most voters like,a man with no integrity.

    May 25, 2010 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  19. Caitiesnanny

    Too Late. Without Sestak's cooperation there will be no prosecution of this alleged crime. I bet he wishes he had never revealed this information. A bit short sighted on his part in my opinion. He used it to his advantage in the primary so he could beat Spector but now he has to deal with the repercussions. As long as he keeps his mouth shut he might still have a chance to redeem himself with the current administration.
    Toomey for Senate!

    May 25, 2010 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  20. Doug

    Obama's poor judgement evident again in the Sestak case.

    May 25, 2010 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  21. Ron in California

    You know something is wrong....white House continues to dance around the issue. Spin miesters will come up with something.

    May 25, 2010 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  22. indy

    It's embarrassing how Congressman Sestak only wanted to be open and honest when he thought it would help him win a primary. Why so shy now? Why so quiet? He didn't have a problem creating an issue for the President or Senator Specter. Now that he needs the President's support, he's not going to talk. What a hypocrite! A really transparent White House too! Way to go keeping everything open! NOTHING HAS CHANGED!!!! Some people choose to be blind because it's their guy and he would never do anything dishonest. HA!

    May 25, 2010 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  23. geoff

    It would be nice - not likely, but nice - if a guy like Joe Sestak told the democratic leadership to stuff it and just run as a candidate to represent Pennsylvania. The party establishment took it on the chin for a really good reason: we're sick of the political hacks (both sides of the aisle) who have made a mess of our country.

    May 25, 2010 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  24. jim s

    why shouldnt the white house be interested in recruiting a war hero

    May 25, 2010 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  25. WaltinAZ

    Desperately trying to dig up dirt–to no avail!

    May 25, 2010 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
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