Report: White House Used Bill Clinton To Approach Sestak About “Unpaid, Advisory Position”
The New York Times has just broken a story about the Joe Sestak job controversy that puts the entire story in a new light:
President Obama’s chief of staff used former President Bill Clinton as an intermediary to see if Representative Joe Sestak would drop out of a Senate primary if given a prominent, but unpaid, advisory position, people briefed on the matter said Friday.
Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, asked Mr. Clinton to explore the possibilities last summer, according to the briefed individuals, who insisted on anonymity to discuss the politically charged situation. Mr. Sestak said no and went on to win last week’s Pennsylvania Democratic primary against Senator Arlen Specter.
The White House did not offer Mr. Sestak a full-time paid position because Mr. Emanuel wanted him to stay in the House rather than risk losing his seat. Among the positions explored by the White House was an appointment to the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, which provides independent oversight and advice the president. But White House officials discovered it would not work because Mr. Sestak could not serve on the board while still serving in Congress.
If this turns out to be what the entire controversy was about, then it’s frankly even less of a deal than I thought it was. It’s not even clear that the type of position discussed would amount to the type of offer that would implicate the statutes that I wrote about yesterday.
The scenario, if true, does strike me, though, as politically questionable. Why would anyone in the White House have thought that Sestak, who clearly wants to be a Senator would choose instead to remain in Congress and serve on an advisory board ? If they really wanted to give him incentive to change his mind on challenging Specter, it seems to me that there’s a whole lot more that could have been offered.
Nonethless, this does shed light on the whole story and confirms me initial suspicions that this was nothing more than a faux controversy.