Color me skeptical that this issue will go anywhere — at least legally. Rep. Darrell Issa tells Neil Cavuto that he wants a probe into the admission by Rep. Joe Sestak that the White House offered him a cushy executive-branch job if he dropped his campaign against incumbent Democrat Arlen Specter for the Pennsylvania Senate seat. Sestak’s admission on a radio show four weeks ago appears rather conclusive that a quid pro quo existed in the offer, although Sestak has since stopped talking about it. If so, Issa argues, then someone in the White House has broken federal law:
I’m skeptical for a couple of reasons. First, horse trading like this happens all the time, and usually the people who conduct it know better than to make the quid pro quo explicit. Cavuto’s remark here is probably closer to reality, which is that the offer itself implicitly acknowledged that accepting the job meant backing out of the race. Everyone understood why the job was being offered, but it’s doubtful that anyone was dumb enough to state it outright, or worse yet put it in writing.
Let’s say, however, that they did. How would anyone probe this? Sestak’s not talking any more, and if the offer was made verbally, there probably aren’t any other witnesses besides Sestak and the person making the offer. Congress could demand a hearing on this, but that assumes that the Democrats who run the Oversight Committee (the most appropriate venue) are interested torpedoing both a progressive Democratic candidate in Pennsylvania or the man who lives on Pennsylvania Avenue. Issa has a better chance of seeing Nancy Pelosi drop ObamaCare this week.
That doesn’t mean this issue won’t play politically, especially in Pennsylvania. Issa’s point about White House transparency will certainly resonate after a season of backroom machinations on ObamaCare, run by the President himself out of the White House. Keystone State voters probably will resent the attempted manipulation of the Senate primary, too. As long as no one expects this to go any further, it will make a valid issue for the midterm referendum on Hope and Change.