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'Have I got a job for you?' -- the sequel

June 4, 2010 |  9:38 am

The revelation that the Obama administration may have floated the idea of a job to a second candidate it wanted to sideline doubles its embarrassment over the Joe Sestak affair. But does it strengthen the case for a criminal investigation, either by a special prosecutor or the Justice Department? Probably not.

Better late than never, the White House has acknowledged that it had Bill Clinton float the idea of an advisory position in order to induce Sestak to drop his Pennsylvania primary challenge to Republican-turned-Democrat Sen. Arlen Specter.

Now it develops that an aide discussed a position in the administration with Andrew Romanoff, who is opposing incumbent Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet in that state's August primary. If the White House is to be believed, there was no job offer, just a question to Romanoff if he was still interested in a position he inquired about earlier with the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Assume the worst about the Romanoff overture, and you have a public-relations nightmare for the administration. But, as with the Sestak offer, it's unlikely any prosecutor, special or otherwise, would charge White House aides with violating a law that makes it a crime, punishable by a fine or a year's imprisonment, to offer a job to someone "as consideration, favor, or reward for any political activity or for the support of or opposition to any candidate or any political party."

Think of it as a math problem: If one approach like this isn't a big enough deal to justify a criminal prosecution, then the addition of another doesn't change things. Two times zero is still zero. Of course, the political equation could be very different.

-- Michael McGough


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