This morning, the White House Counsel’s office issued this statement in an attempt to explain what did and didn’t happen with regards to Rep. Sestak. Here’s the text of the statement:


SUBJECT: Review of Discussion Relating to Congressman Sestak

Recent press reports have reflected questions and speculation about discussions between White House staff and Congressman Joe Sestak in relation to his plans to run for the United States Senate. Our office has reviewed those discussions and claims made about them, focusing in particular on the suggestion that government positions may have been improperly offered to the Congressman to dissuade him from pursing a Senate candidacy.

We have concluded that allegations of improper conduct rest on factual errors and lack a basis in the law.

Secretary of the Navy. It has been suggested that the administration may have offered Congressman Sestak the position of Secretary of the Navy in the hope that he would accept the offer and abandon a Senate candidacy. This is false. The President announced his intent to nominate Ray Mabus to be Secretary of the Navy on March 26, 2009, over a month before Senator Specter announced that he was becoming a member of the Democratic Party in late April. Mabus was confirmed in May. At no time was Congressman Sestak offered, nor did he seek, the position of Secretary of the Navy.

Uncompensated Advisory Board Options. We found that Congressman has publicly and accurately stated, options for Executive Branch service were raised with him. Efforts were made in June and July of 2009 to determine whether Congressman Sestak would be interested in service on a Presidential or other Senior Executive Branch Advisory Board, which would avoid a divisive Senate primary, allow him to retain his seat in the House, and provide him with an opportunity for additional service to the public in a high-level advisory capacity for which he was highly qualified. The advisory positions discussed with Congressman Sestak, while important to the work of the Administration, would have been uncompensated.

White House staff did not discuss these options with Congressman Sestak. The White House Chief of Staff enlisted the support of former President Clinton who agreed to raise with Congressman Sestak options of service on a Presidential or other Senior Executive Branch Advisory Board. Congressman Sestak declined the suggested alternatives, remaining committed to his Senate candidacy.

Relationship to Senate Campaign. It has been suggested that discussion of alternatives to the Senate campaign were improperly raised with the Congressman. There was no such impropriety. The Democratic Party leadership had a legitimate interest in averting a divisive primary fight and a similarly legitimate concern about the Congressman vacating his seat in the House. By virtue of his career in public service, including distinguished military service, Congressman Sestak was viewed to be highly qualified to hold a range of advisory positions in which he could, while holding his House seat, have additional responsibilities of considerable potential interest to him and value to the Executive Branch.

There have been numerous, reported instances in the past when prior Administrations, both Democratic and Republican, and motivated by the same goals, discussed alternative paths to service for qualified individuals also considering campaigns for public office. Such discussions are fully consistent with the relevant law and ethical requirements.

Does this administration expect us to believe that they thought there was a good chance of persuading Rep. Sestak of dropping out of the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania by offering him “a high-level advisory” job that wasn’t compensated? Here’s what the Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes tweeted minutes ago:

Did WH seriously think that Sestak would have accepted “unpaid” spot in admin? The more you think about that, the more implausible it seems.

Hayes later tweeted this:

So a seat on a “presidential board” is the same as a high-ranking administration job, the description Sestak previously agreed to? Ummm, no.

It’s insulting that this administration thinks we’re that gullible. Either that or these guys are exceptionally stupid in their political calculations. (HINT: I don’t think they’re “exceptionally stupid.”)

As usual, Ed asks the right question, then gives us the right answer. First, here’s Sestak’s statement:

Last summer, I received a phone call from President Clinton. During the course of the conversation, he expressed concern over my prospects if I were to enter the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate and the value of having me stay in the House of Representatives because of my military background. He said that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had spoken with him about my being on a Presidential Board while remaining in the House of Representatives. I said no. I told President Clinton that my only consideration in getting into the Senate race or not was whether it was the right thing to do for Pennsylvania working families and not any offer. The former President said he knew I’d say that, and the conversation moved on to other subjects.

There are many important challenges facing Pennsylvania and the rest of the country. I intend to remain focused on those issues and continue my fight on behalf of working families.

Here’s Ed’s Q and A:

Excuse me, but a position on a Presidential Board is not a “job” in any sense of the word. Sestak has repeatedly insisted that the White House offered him a job to get him to withdraw from the race. Now we’re at the who’s-lying stage, and it may well be everyone.

Ed, I couldn’t agree more. The White House explanation isn’t persuasive, to put it politely. Rep. Sestak’s statement of agreement doesn’t pass the straight face test either. The bottom line is this: It’s now apparent that Rep. Sestak has backtracked from his oft-repeated story that he was offered a job.

I hope Pat Toomey replays this over and over and over again to remind people that Rep. Sestak is, first and foremost, just another corrupt yes man that’ll do whatever President Obama tells him to. Rep. Sestak dramatically changed his story the minute the White House told him to.

Pennsylvania, is that the type of representation you want?

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

One Response to “They Expect Us To Believe This?”

  • eric z says:

    You ignore the oil contamination arising from eight years of Bush – Cheney playing footsie with the Big Oil powers, (and with Coleman serving as friend to Nasser Kazeminy and his deepwater Gulf shore oil bisiness and as point man and bill sponsor for more offshore deepwater drilling); but your teapot is steaming up over this “tempest”?

    Gary, you have no sense of perspective. Billion dollar crony crookery and look the other way regulation is not offensive, but Chicago style politics playing out in Pennsylvania bothers you?

    You cannot get over Arlen’s seeing the light I suppose. I would think your people would be happy to see him have a comeuppance, but I guess it was not satisfying because you could not be the ones to give it to him.

    Get back on tract to real things. Banks too big to fail having gotten bigger by consolidation, lack of jobs arising from the Bush financial meltdown – from lack of real regulation all those GOP years in the White House, and look for decent bipartisan ways to undo all that mischief and keep people in their homes and employed.

    Bachmann does not care to be useful, but the rest of you GOP guys can. It is the American thing to do. Wave that flag.

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