For the Obama administration and illicit job offers, apparently once was not enough. The Justice Department not only should appoint a special counsel to investigate a purported White House job-offer bribe to Rep. Joe Sestak, Pennsylvania Democrat, but also should broaden the probe to include remarkably similar allegations about the Senate race in Colorado.
A single job offer for somebody to abandon a Senate race is nefarious enough. But if this has happened twice or more, it starts to show evidence of a mens rea - a “guilty mind,” or a specific intent. Moreover, if the president’s disgraced home-state former governor, Rod Blagojevich, Illinois Democrat, is to be believed, something in the same ballpark may have happened a third time as well.
By now, the Sestak story is in headlines across the country. Mr. Sestak has repeated too many times to count that somebody from the White House offered him a federal job - perhaps secretary of the Navy - if he would drop his challenge to party-switching Sen. Arlen Specter. Mr. Sestak did not drop out, and he eventually defeated the turncoat Mr. Specter. Federal law 18 U.S.C. Sec. 600 forbids public officials to “directly or indirectly, promise … any employment, position, compensation, contract, appointment, or other benefit” to any person as a “consideration, favor, or reward for any political activity or for the support of or opposition to any candidate or any political party.”
In short, Mr. Sestak says the White House broke the law. The White House says it didn’t - and now says former President Bill Clinton merely had informal bull sessions with Mr. Sestak. Maybe it depends on what the meaning of “informal” is. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., as has become his stupendously obstructionist practice, refuses to investigate. Hence the call from seven Senate Republicans for the appointment of a special counsel.
Yet the sole focus on Mr. Sestak is misplaced. If the Sestak allegation is serious - and it is - the similar story about former Colorado Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff is equally important. In September, the Denver Post cited “several top Colorado Democrats” who said that Deputy White House Chief of Staff Jim Messina “offered specific suggestions” for an administration job if Mr. Romanoff would agree not to challenge Sen. Michael Bennet, Colorado Democrat, this year. Reported the Post: “Romanoff turned down the overture, which included mention of a job at USAID, the foreign aid agency, sources said.”
On a parallel track, on April 22, Mr. Blagojevich demanded a subpoena of President Obama to testify at the former governor’s corruption trial. “The president is said to have explicitly recommended current White House adviser Valerie Jarrett for his Senate seat,” reported the Hill newspaper, “that a supporter offered a quid pro quo if Jarrett was appointed to the Senate, that Obama kept a list of suitable Senate candidates.” And so on.
Even White House political guru David Axelrod admitted that if the Sestak tale is true, it would “constitute a serious breach of law.” The story from the Windy City’s Mr. Blagojevich brings to mind a line from the Ian Fleming character Goldfinger: “Mr. Bond, they have a saying in Chicago - ‘Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.’”