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The Sestak anticlimax

So  the Obama administration did offer Rep. Joe Sestak a job to drop out of a Democratic primary race against Sen. Arlen Specter. And the offer came from Bill Clinton! But it wasn’t a good job, like secretary of the Navy. No,  Sestak’s consolation prize would have been unpaid membership on a presidential panel, probably the president's Intelligence Advisory Board.

The administration’s better-late-than-never revelation raises the question of whether anticlimax equals absolution.  Before the statement’s release, Rep. Darrell  Issa (R-Vista) was pressing for a criminal investigation, citing a statute making it a crime 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."

Issa wasn’t mollified by the White House statement, which he called “a defense attorney's legal spin.”

In theory, the revelation that Sestak was offered an unpaid and obscure job shouldn’t affect the legal question. In fact, the relative insignificance of the job would incline a prosecutor even further in the direction of not proceeding with a criminal charge. Such “prudential” decisions are made by prosecutors all the time.

But President Obama doesn’t totally beat the rap. He stands convicted by his own White House counsel of engaging in the “old politics” he long has decried. That’s probably punishment enough.

-- Michael McGough


Comments () | Archives (14)

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What Change?


The White House broke the law that would qualify as a High Crime and Misdemeanor. An Impeachable offense.

The law states:

"Whoever, directly or indirectly, promises any employment, position, compensation, contract, appointment, or other benefit, provided for or made possible in whole or in part by any Act of Congress, or any special consideration in obtaining any such benefit, to any person as consideration, favor, or reward for any political activity or for the support of or opposition to any candidate or any political party in connection with any general or special election to any political office, or in connection with any primary election or political convention or caucus held to select candidates for any political office, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both."

I repeat, "shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both."

Either Sestak is a liar (not trivial) or someone in the WH committed a felony (not trivial).


Darrell Issa and Co., who were busy for eight years rationalizing the crimes of Bush and Cheney, are suddenly consumed with upholding the rule of law. Republican hypocrisy is seemingly boundless.


@ Wade. That is certainly no excuse for committing this felony, and certainly no excuse for failing to appoint an independent investigation, ESPECIALLY in regard to someone who promised to be above reproach.

Now they are being simply above the law.

Lisa Dorn

This piece would have to have been on the opinion page because it seems to have no basis in fact. If any position, paid or unpaid, was offered in exchange for dropping out of a political race, a crime was committed. It is called a bribe. If the White House initiated the bribe then impeachment proceedings become a reality not just a plausible possibility. Obama slapping his own wrist on this will not wash--nor should it. Hardly anticlimactic.


Come on theres noway Cliton going to offer an unpaid and obscure job one that Sestak couldnt even do anyway. You need to Cliton under oath and see if he is willing to lie again.
Articles like this is exactly why the LA Times is dieing. Why anyone would pay 3 to 4 times more for such slanted reporting, well they just wont. I know this is an opinion article but if you read some of the articles about immigration and Obama etc. the slant is sooo obvious. I use to subsribe but for these prices and this kind of reporting no way. The daily caller has highlited some LA times storys latley so I thought I would comment even though i sure it wont be posted.

Stuart Weiss

Valerie Plame - Wilson redux? Not!

The only thing I really miss here is not having G. W. Bush to kick around anymore! Were this the Bush Administration LA TIME'S resident culture vulture and defender of the American Way, Tim Rutten might well have already produced three-plus columns calling for an independent consul, a shriving for the guilty and a congressional investigation headed by the redoubtable super-sleuth...... Henry Waxman. Pity, 'twas only the Chi-obama Bunch doing business as usual assuring another leftist-pliant, keepers of the flame, progressive pasteboard puff-piece. (Signed) Aunty Mame

Joe The Plumber

The WH did commit a felony, but they'll never be held accountable for it. And what about revelation that the WH promised Specter with a no-primary nomination in exchange for him switching parties (a critical move that enabled the communist healthcare bill to pass)? Where is the outrage with the Specter horse-trade-gone-bad?

The interesting thing here is that by distancing himself from the WH, Joe S will probably win in 2010! The WH should be thanking him - wonder if they called to congratulate him on the primary win. One less seat to lose!

The only silver lining is that Arlen Specter will be remembered for his 30 years public service in a crumpled disgrace to himself. What a loser.

Michael F

That is of course if you believe that it was a non-paying job. As a House member Sestak was barred from serving on an advisory board. So then in order to believe this I would have to believe that a heavyweight such as Pres. Clinton impressed to offer Congressman Sestak an unpaying position that would require him to leave the House. Are you kidding me?


Well I'm sure glad the WH cleared this up. Maybe all of those people will stop calling for someone to be jailed over this. Remember that the WH was preoccupied with other matters such as what industry to nationalize next. It only took ten weeks to get to the truth of the matter. Clinton, a man who has never told a lie, should be believeable. The offer of a job that Sestak couldn't accept is a problem but if he resigned from congress he could have accepted the job. We actually no less about this president than all of the others we have had. Maybe this is how he operates his administration. Sestak should do fine against Toomey in PA...


I really don't see how this could be prosecuted, as the job offer as such only implies a favor. I doubt they explicitly explained that they intended to break the law, and thus what proof would there be? Nasty politics, I agree, but thanks to the wording of the law it's impossible to prove any criminal activity.

Tim Bowman

A tempest in a teapot. The President and his staff exercised bad judgment, but certainly nothing worth starting a criminal investigation. We have better and more pressing issues with which to deal.


The President and his staff exercised bad judgment, which, by law, demands starting a criminal investigation.

He cannot demand everyone obey the laws he signs when he breaks them with impunity. There can only be one standard for the law.

Investigate NOW!!!


Chicago politics on a national scale. What plays in Chicago for politics doesn't necessarily play in the rest of the country. This whole explanation about sending in a lowly former president to offer Sestak a job he couldn't accept. Come on...



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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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