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Dig into alleged Joe Sestak job offer, GOP tells Justice Department

The White House backed Rep. Joe Sestak's opponent in the Democratic Senate primary in Pennsylvania. The GOP wants to know whether it offered Mr. Sestak a job to drop out of the race.

By Staff writer / May 26, 2010

Rep. Joe Sestak (D) of Pennsylvania talks to reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday. Mr. Sestak defeated Sen. Arlen Specter (D) of Pennsylvania in last week's Senate primary. Republicans want to know if the Obama administration offered him a job to drop out of the race.

Harry Hamburg/AP



Senate Republicans Thursday called on the Justice Department to investigate whether the Obama White House offered Rep. Joe Sestak (D) of Pennsylvania a high-ranking job in the administration if he would drop out of the 2010 Democratic Senate primary race – if true, a felony.

It’s not unusual for national political leaders to try to clear the primary field to protect an incumbent, in this case freshly minted Democrat and five-term Sen. Arlen Specter. What’s rare is for anyone to discuss the alleged offer as openly as Congressman Sestak did in a Feb. 18 interview on Comcast network news, which then migrated to other news sources.

“The allegations in this matter are very serious and, if true, suggest a violation of various criminal laws intended to safeguard our political process from the taint of bribes and political machine manipulation,” said Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee in a Wednesday letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.

Those who signed the letter include Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Charles Grassley of Iowa, Jon Kyl of Arizona, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Cornyn of Texas, and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

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(The eighth Republican seat on the panel had been Senator Specter, whose defection to the Democratic Party on April 28, 2009, gave the Democratic caucus a then-filibuster-proof majority of 60 seats. President Obama told Specter at the time: “You have my full support, and we’re thrilled to have you.”)

The White House has not denied that conversations between Sestak and White House officials took place, but press secretary Robert Gibbs said on March 16 that whatever conversations took place “were not problematic.”