The ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform formally is asking President Obama for a list of all of the times the White House tried to “persuade” candidates to drop out of races.
The letter today from Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., to Obama’s counsel, Robert Bauer, seeks, “A full and complete list of all elections in which the White House engaged in efforts to persuade specific candidates to drop election bids.”
Issa wrote that, “If a job or any other thing of value meant to entice a candidate to withdraw from or not to enter the race was offered, please specify to whom it was offered, and by whom it was offered.”
He also asked Bauer publicly to commit to preserving all records concerning “job offers made to Rep. Sestak, Mr. Romanoff, and any other candidates.”
Issa said he was making the request, “so that the American people can better understand the extent to which the White House systematically interfered with elections across the country.”
WND reported just yesterday that three members of Congress said the formal White House explanation of the case involving Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., indicated not only was a crime committed by offering a “job” in return for a political decision not to challenge White House favorite Sen. Arlen Specter in a Democratic primary, but there also were raised suspicions of evidence and witness tampering and evasion of the legal process.
That came from Issa and Reps. Lamar Smith, R-Texas; and James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.
The questions were raised because Sestak repeatedly and on the record has stated since February the White House had offered him a job in return for leaving the primary race against Specter. Sestak refused and ultimately defeated Specter in the primary.
Now White House officials and former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff also have confirmed there were “job” discussions should Romanoff decide against challenging in the primary another White House favorite, Sen. Michael Bennet.
Federal law essentially prohibits trying to obtain a political decision or favor by offering a thing of value, such as a job, in return.
Issa’s letter said it is concerning that the Sestak case developed only after repeated media questions about Sestak’s claim of a job offer if he would not challenge Specter. And in the Romanoff case, it also took months for either side to confirm what had been reported.
“In neither the case of Rep. Sestak nor in the case of Mr. Romanoff was it the White Hosue that first revealed that a job was offered to entice the candidates to abandon his campaign,” the letter said. “American people should not have to rely on candidates and party leaders who have been on the wrong end of inappropriate and unlawful job offers to disclose those offers months after the fact. Instead, the White House should honor the president’s commitment to making his administration the most open and transparent in history…”
House GOP Leader John Boehner said while the White House “unsurprisingly acquitted itself of any wrongdoing, ” the fastest way for the American people to get answers “is for the White House to come clean and fully disclose its use of federal appointments to manipulate elections.”
The issue even has gotten the attention of Democrats. Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he thinks the White House should release documents about the Romanoff offer, “but I don’t run the White House.”
In a statement, Issa said, “Just how deep does the Obama White House’s effort to invoke Chicago-style politics for the purpose of manipulating elections really go? Clearly, Joe Sestak and Andrew Romanoff aren’t isolated incidents and are indicative of a culture that embraces the politics-as-usual mentality that the American people are sick and tired of. Whatever the Obama brand use to stand for has been irrevocably shattered by the activities going on inside Barack Obama’s White House.”
Still developing are accusations in the ongoing trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blogojevich that may link Obama or White House staff members to allegations the impeached governor tried to cut a deal involving his authority to appoint a replacement to the U.S. Senate to fill the seat vacated by Obama’s election to the White House.
At today’s White House news briefing, spokesman Robert Gibbs was grilled about the situation.
“I do believe we’ve been transparent,” he said in defense of Obama. “The president has, as leader of the party, has an interest in ensuring that supporters don’t run against each other in contested primaries.”
Republicans already twice have asked for a special prosecutor to investigate the Sestak case, without success.
“It’s time for everyone involved in this scandal to come clean,” said Tom Fitton, chief of the government corruption investigating Judicial Watch.
He said the situation raises concerns about a “disturbing pattern” in the Obama White House.
“We still don’t have all the details about involvement of Obama administration officials in the sale of Obama’s former Illinois U.S. Senate seat by Rod Blagojevich. And we still don’t have answers about the charge that Obama Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina offered a federal job to Colorado Democratic Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff to keep him out of the Senate race. There is also the report that President Obama tried to push disgruntled White House Counsel Greg Craig out of the White House by offering a federal judgeship on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. And now we have Joe Sestak,” he said. “The Chicago Machine has truly come to Washington.”
Peter Ferrar, director of budget policy at the Institute for Policy Innovation and a policy adviser to the Heartland Institute, went further.
“Months ago, I predicted in this column that President Obama would so discredit himself in office that he wouldn’t even be on the ballot in 2012, let alone have a prayer of being re-elected. Like President Johnson in 1968, who had won a much bigger victory four years previously than Obama did in 2008, President Obama will be so politically defunct by 2012 that he won’t even try to run for re-election,” he wrote.
“I am now ready to predict that President Obama will not even make it that far. I predict that he will resign in discredited disgrace before the fall of 2012. Like my previous prediction, that is based not just on where we are now, but where we are going under his misleadership.”