02 June 2010

Change We Can Believe In - UPDATED

UPDATE: Now that the trial of the Governor-from-Hell, Blagojevich, has begun, questions about the role of the White House and presidential associates in 'helping' to pick candidates will continue to bubble up.  Just ask Paterson and Ford about the WH cherry-picking candidates in New York.

Hannity not-withstanding, it's pretty obvious that the vague White House offer, extended by the hand of Bill Clinton, to give Joe Sestak an unpaid advisory position for dropping out of the Democratic Senate primary (against Arlen Specter), will never land the White House in real legal trouble.  The real problem is the appearance that the White House that promised to usher in change, and clear out 'politics-as-usual,' is playing the usual game.  Gibbs' utter inability to give a straight answer to any specific question was on full display during yesterday's press briefing:
'White House press secretary Robert Gibbs indicated Tuesday that Rep. Joe Sestak was not offered a spot on the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board but refused to say what was dangled in front of the Democrat in an attempt to remove him from a Senate primary. ... Sestak indicated Friday he was offered a spot on the PIAB by former President Bill Clinton, who was acting on behalf of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.  “I heard presidential board and I think it was Intel,” Sestak said to reporters, describing his conversation with Clinton.  White House counsel Bob Bauer said Friday that Sestak was offered a spot on “a presidential or other senior executive branch advisory board.”  However, Sestak would have been ineligible for such a post. Sestak and the Obama administration both said the congressman would have kept his seat in the House if he took a spot on the PIAB. But the PIAB is comprised of individuals who are “outside the government.”'
Gibbs even seemed unable to explain why he couldn't give a specific answer on the contents of the explanatory memo issued last Friday by White House Counsel, Robert Bauer: '“Whatever’s in the memo is accurate,” Gibbs said, adding that he would “check.”'  To add to the White House's self-immolation, it appears that similar offers were made to Andrew Romanoff who is running as a Senate candidate in Colorado.  Apparently, Jim Messina (White House Deputy Chief of Staff) was dispatched to offer a White House position to Romanoff if he would agree to clear the way for Sen. Michael Bennett in the Colorado Democratic primary.  The Romanoff deal is even less sticky, legally, than the Sestak offer since Romanoff was not a declared candidate at the time.  Again, however, it appears that the more things change in D.C., the more they stay the same.  This impression is only reinforced when the parties involved and the White House refuse to specifically answer any questions about the offers on the table.
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