Sestak’s earmark explanation not quite convincing

posted at 5:46 pm on September 2, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Already falling behind Republican Pat Toomey in the polls in his bid to win a US Senate seat, Joe Sestak has run into yet another ethics scandal, this time relating to an earmark he authored for floating wind turbines.  House rules forbid earmarking to for-profit companies, and the earmark money would have eventually ended up in the hands of New Wave Energy LLC, a for-profit manufacturer of the wind turbines, headed by Drew Devitt.  Sestak claimed that he understood that the money would remain in the hands of the Thomas Paine Foundation of Media — which, as it turns out, is also headed by Drew Devitt.

In order to clear his name, Sestak released a letter purporting to show that he had no idea that the funds would go to New Wave Energy LLC or any for-profit company.  Unfortunately for Sestak, the letter would have proven his case — if it weren’t for one tiny detail, as the Philadelphia Daily News reports:

Sestak just released a letter that he sent to the U.S. Department of Energy on April 12 that clearly connects the non-profit organization to the for-profit company.  Sestak also released the initial application for the funding, to pay for construction of a prototype for a vertical axis wind turbine, which has a less definitive connection between the non-profit and for-profit.

In the application, Thomas Paine Foundation founder Drew Devitt notes that “many of the employees of New Wave Energy (which will manufacture the VAWT demonstration model) are located” in Sestak’s Congressional District.  What Devitt doesn’t note is that he is the sole officer for both the non-profit and the for-profit.

Sestak said Devitt asked him after the earmark request was filed to write a letter of introduction to the Department of Energy.  Sestak said Devitt wrote the letter using a standard format from his Congressional office.  Here’s the first line: “I am writing to introduce you to Drew Devitt, the founder and chairman of New Way Energy LLC, a company located in Aston, PA and suggest you meet with the app.”  That letter goes on to say the project is being “developed in conjunction with [Devitt's] non-profit organization, the Thomas Paine Foundation.

In response, Sestak says he “failed to catch” the connection between NWE and the TPF … er, that Sestak himself made in the first line of the letter to the DoE.  Maybe Sestak was just randomly typing on his keyboard and failed to notice that the letter actually contained a rather clear link between the non-profit and New Wave Energy? Didn’t Sestak even bother to read the letter before releasing it to the press?

If this is the kind of scrutiny Sestak plans to exercise over government spending and the kind of competence he will bring as a Senator, then Pennsylvanians should take this opportunity to retire Sestak.

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Popcorn…git yur popcorn…

right2bright on September 2, 2010 at 5:50 PM

Lord Gawd almighty ….Pat is going to love this one

Aggie95 on September 2, 2010 at 5:50 PM

Floating wind turbines? What for the Delaware River?

Mr. Joe on September 2, 2010 at 5:50 PM

With all the problems Stesak is facing, he should be toast by election day.

If Toomey is able to salt this one away soon, the money that would go to his ads could go to the House districts there or the Senate races in another state as well.

teke184 on September 2, 2010 at 5:51 PM

Joe Sestak is actually an idiot

Seriously

Watch anything on YouTube; on a scale of idiot to kinda dumb (with “idiot” being Ed Schultz and “kinda dumb” Rachel meadow), Joe Sestak is an idiot

Watch his interviews about the “offered him a job” thing. He sounds like a child.

battleoflepanto1571 on September 2, 2010 at 5:52 PM

Sestak just won’t have time to be a US Senator .. I mean with all the grand jury time he will be clocking.

J_Crater on September 2, 2010 at 5:54 PM

I don’t want to pay the salaries anymore for people who would rather say “Oh gosh, I’m just an f’ing moron” rather than “Ooops, yep, I screwed up on that one,”

myrenovations on September 2, 2010 at 5:55 PM

Sestak is so special.

As in:

SPECIAL PROSECUTOR!

profitsbeard on September 2, 2010 at 5:56 PM

Senator Toomey sounds just right.

Inmate Sestak does too…come to think of it.

Justrand on September 2, 2010 at 5:57 PM

Joe Sestak has run into yet another ethics scandal, this time relating to an earmark he authored for floating wind turbines.

Big Corporations! Big Oil! Fat Cats! Wall Street! The Rich!

there….did I miss anyone in my nightly liberal demagogue screed?

ted c on September 2, 2010 at 5:58 PM

Didn’t Sestak even bother to read the letter before releasing it to the press?

More of the same from congress. I am starting to think that congressman cannot read.

tommer74 on September 2, 2010 at 5:58 PM

he’ll be able to join the Leavenworth Village People cover-band….they’ll throw him in the Rudy Galindo sailor outfit and sing “In The Navy!”……and mean it… :0

ted c on September 2, 2010 at 5:59 PM

HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMm ,maybe once Republicans start investigations on Nov. 5th ,Sestak will seek immunity for this blatant abuse of office in exchange for his testimony on HOW and WHAT was offered for Sestak to drop out of the race ?
Has anyone coined ” SLEEZESTACK” yet ? sounds similar …….

ELMO Q on September 2, 2010 at 6:03 PM

Although he’s obviously responsible for things going out with his signature, I seriously doubt he writes most of his own letters.

acasilaco on September 2, 2010 at 6:10 PM

Lets be honest here, without government support these companies would not be profitable. After all who wants to pay 30 cents per kwh for power?

Canadian Imperialist Running Dog on September 2, 2010 at 6:15 PM

Why is Sestak,not already in jail!!

canopfor on September 2, 2010 at 6:18 PM

If it earmarks, it needs to be branded.

abobo on September 2, 2010 at 6:20 PM

OT: text to 36288 and vote 4 for Special Report’s text poll on how many House seats the Republicans will take: 50 or more.

John the Libertarian on September 2, 2010 at 6:27 PM

Dear Congressman Sestak, Thank you for your years of service to your country while in uniform. Please go home and retire now.

(Same letter I wanted to send to John McCain in 2007.)

barnone on September 2, 2010 at 6:39 PM

Earmarks are necessary tools.
Emergency funding immediately after Katrina was an earmark.

Earmarks should only be introduced by the Majority or Minority leaders of their party. Announced in press releases days in advance with an explaination of who, what, when, where, why and how much.

barnone on September 2, 2010 at 6:44 PM

He’s arrogant, he’s played off his special needs daughter for the past four years and I’ve written him a ton of letters which get responded with four page tomes that arrive weeks later and don’t recognize my concerns, only give his position.

In addition, he hasn’t lived in Delaware County or PA since he was a kid, he uses his parent’s address (i think now deceased though not certain). He lives in DC full time and has since he left the military. I wouldn’t doubt that his wife is a lobbyist.

All in all, not a good person

phillypolitics on September 2, 2010 at 9:26 PM

This guy was an Admiral in the Navy. How in the world did he ever attain that high of a rank? He acts like he doesn’t have a brain cell in his head.

flintstone on September 2, 2010 at 9:56 PM

This guy was an Admiral in the Navy. How in the world did he ever attain that high of a rank? He acts like he doesn’t have a brain cell in his head.

flintstone on September 2, 2010 at 9:56 PM

There are alot, not all but many, high ranking naval and other service officers just like him.

whbates on September 2, 2010 at 10:15 PM

Didn’t Sestak even bother to read the letter before releasing it to the press?

I think you have mail letters before you know what’s in them.

Barnestormer on September 2, 2010 at 10:49 PM

The mystery is why Pennsylvanians ever hired him in the first place. Part of it can be explained by the dirty tricks op against Curt Weldon, who served this district with integrity for ten consecutive terms. But still …

But how to explain re-electing Sestak in 08? Again, part of it can be explained by the failure of the GOP to run a serious campaign (even though they had a serious candidate in Craig Williams). But still …

Well, this year, Sestak is up against a serious opponent with a serious campaign and (so far) no knife sticking out of his back. So there’s room to hope we’ll be waving goodbye to Joe come January.

Lynn B. on September 2, 2010 at 11:29 PM

Plus Pat Meehan should win his old House seat

phillypolitics on September 3, 2010 at 8:17 AM

Vertical axis wind turbines? Does Sestak want the wind to blow up?

Steve Z on September 3, 2010 at 9:44 AM

This guy was an Admiral in the Navy. How in the world did he ever attain that high of a rank? He acts like he doesn’t have a brain cell in his head.

flintstone on September 2, 2010 at 9:56 PM

Please… Sestak was a Vice Admiral (3-star) when he got fired by Admiral Mullen (Chief of Naval Operations, a 4-star officer in charge of the Navy)… Sestak’s reputation preceded him… He was “legendary”…

How did he get to be a 3-star? He had protectors, but Admiral Mullen (current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) wasn’t one of them… Firing Sestak was the FIRST THING the new CNO did on Monday morning when he showed up for work in the Pentagon…

The Navy did the right thing (firing him)… Pennsylvania: your turn now!

Khun Joe on September 3, 2010 at 11:46 AM