In the wake of Rep. Joe Sestak's victory over Sen. Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary, Republicans are working to spotlight Sestak's suggestion during a February radio interview that he had been offered a high-ranking administration job, possibly Secretary of the Navy, in exchange for dropping out of the race.
California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa has been, which Issa says could be a violation of the law. He has to investigate the matter, which the White House has sought to play down.
"It has been close to three months and the American public is still looking for a straight answer from the White House on whether a job offer was made to bait Joe Sestak out of the Pennsylvania Senate race and, if so, whether it still stands," Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele said in a statement today. "It is unacceptable for an administration that touts itself as the 'most transparent' in history to continue to stonewall a significant and potentially devastating accusation of political corruption. And, until a thorough and public investigation has been conducted and the air is cleared, this matter will continue to cloud the President each time he steps foot in Pennsylvania to place the establishment mantle on Joe Sestak between now and November."
After President Obama called Sestak to congratulate him on his victory, Issa put out a release asking if "the reason why Congressman Joe Sestak refuses to name names is because the very people who tried to bribe him are now his benefactors."
"For months, Sestak has repeatedly said without equivocation that the White House illegally offered him a federal job in exchange for dropping out of the race," he said. "Was Joe Sestak embellishing what really happened or does he have first-hand knowledge of the White House breaking the law? If what he said is the truth, Joe Sestak has a moral imperative to come forward and expose who within the Obama Administration tried to bribe him."
Sestak was asked on CNN today about the alleged job offer, and he said he had answered the initial question honestly by saying he "was offered something." He added, "beyond that it doesn't matter."
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was pressed on the matter at his briefing today, and he repeatedly said he did not have anything to add to his March comments that any conversations between the White House and Sestak "are not problematic." He offered 10 variations of the phrase "I don't have anything to add to what I said in March."
Issa argues that conversations between the administration and Sestak may have violated anti-bribery provisions of the federal criminal code as well as prohibitions on government officials interfering in elections and using federal jobs for a political purpose. Violation of each provision is punishable by up to one year in jail.