Republicans still looking for answers about Sestak
Republicans want answers — and a little political mileage. The White House wants the whole thing to go away. And until somebody starts talking, neither side is going to get what they want.
On Wednesday, Republicans renewed their daily demand that Representative Joe Sestak, the Democratic Senate candidate from Pennsylvania, and White House officials come clean about what Sestak said was a White House offer of a job if he dropped his primary challenge against Senator Arlen Specter.
Sestak, who first made the allegation to a local interviewer three months ago and confirmed it in television interviews on Sunday, won the primary last week but has refused to provide any more details. The White House says only that it looked into the issue, and nothing inappropriate happened. But it won’t say what actually did happen, or who was involved.
Not surprisingly, that does not satisfy Republicans.
“I think he ought to come clean,” Pat Toomey, Sestak’s Republican foe, told Fox News Channel. “If Joe is going to be the man of principle that he says he’s going to be in this campaign, I think he would be more forthcoming.”
Without knowing what was said or who said it, it’s hard to gauge the legality of the discussion. Government employees are prohibited by law from using their positions to influence a political race or to promise employment as a reward for political activity — a surprise to many in Washington, where top posts and premier assignments routinely go to pals, cronies and political accomplices of those in power.
Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee tried to increase the pressure on Wednesday with a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder demanding the appointment of a special prosecutor to look into the issue.
“The allegations in this matter are very serious and, if true, suggest a possible violation of various federal criminal laws intended to safeguard our political process from the taint of bribes and political machine manipulation,” the letter said.
Some Democrats also have begun to ask for answers. Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell told the Allentown Morning Call the issue was a distraction and Sestak and the White House should “put this behind them.”
Photo credit: Reuters/Tim Shaffer (Sestak after casting his ballot in Democratic primary)