The all new
CBS News App for Android® for iPad® for iPhone®
Fully redesigned. Featuring CBSN, 24/7 live news. Get the App

White House: Matheson Quid Pro Quo Charge "Very Silly"

(minesafetycommission.utah.gov)
When President Obama named law professor Scott Matheson, Jr., pictured at left, to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit on Wednesday, the White House highlighted in a press release his impressive credentials, including years of public service and a top-notch education.

Conservatives, however, are highlighting another fact: Matheson's brother, Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah, is one of the Democrats President Obama is trying to persuade to support his health care proposal.

"Scott Matheson appears to have the credentials to be a judge, but was his nomination used to buy off his brother's vote?" John McCormack of the Weekly Standard asked. He points out Mr. Obama met with Jim Matheson yesterday, just after announcing his brother's nomination. Matheson voted against the health care bill in the House back in November.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said at his daily press briefing today that the allegation was "very silly."

Jim Matheson's office called the charge "patently ridiculous," and Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah called Scott Matheson "a bright attorney whose experience has prepared him for judicial service," Politico reports. Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah said he was "very pleased" with Matheson's nomination.

Nevertheless, the storyline prompted Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) last night to call for an independent investigation into the matter.

Meredith Jessup of TownHall.com suggests that when Gibbs said the president would do "whatever it takes" to pass health care reform, he meant setting up a quid pro quo. Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin called the nomination either "incorrigibly corrupt or incorrigibly stupid."

Left-leaning blogs have taken to defending the administration and mocking conservative writers.

"Sure, he's a Stanford alum, Rhodes scholar, Yale Law School graduate, Harvard profesor, U.S. Attorney, and law school dean," Jonathan Chait of the New Republic writes. "Maybe that makes him 'qualified' by the rock-bottom standards of this administration, even if he's no Harriet Miers."