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Sestak and the White House stonewall

By Michelle Malkin  •  April 5, 2010 03:58 AM

Six weeks ago, Pennsylvania Democrat Rep. Joe Sestak confirmed to the Philly press that he had been offered a job by the Obama administration in exchange for dropping his Senate bid against White House-endorsed incumbent Arlen Specter. After first denying any contact with Sestak took place, White House flack Robert Gibbs changed course and admitted a conversation had occurred. Then he urged the MSM to move on. FNC’s James Rosen recaps the whole sordid case to date here.

Questions about the ethics and legality of such a deal continue to mount. Sestak remains tight-lipped about the details (to protect the bribers, no doubt) — even as he now uses the very issue to tout his independence. Talk about exploiting a crisis. The Morning Call of Pa. reported this weekend:

Sestak has refused to provide any details and the White House has admitted only that a conversation did take place. The secretiveness of it all has prompted a Republican congressman to call for a federal investigation into whether any such offer violated federal law.

”Having been asked a question that no one had ever asked me before, I answered it honestly,” Sestak said Friday. ”The politics of what happens after, I’m not interested in. There are other things we have to focus on.”

…Initially, the White House denied Sestak’s story.

Then, in mid-March, after being asked six times over a month, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs acknowledged a conversation with Sestak had occurred. But Gibbs remained vague.

”I’m told that whatever conversations have been had are not problematic,” Gibbs said. ”I think Congressman Sestak has discussed that this is — whatever happened is in the past, and he’s focused on his primary election.”

…Clearly the issue isn’t expected to go away before the May 18 primary. Despite the distraction it’s caused in Sestak’s campaign, he said it shows the voters he can be trusted to answer questions honestly. ”Asked that question,” he said, ”I’d answer it the same way again.”

Careful there, Joe. Too much self-congratulatory exercise and you’ll throw out your shoulder. The GOP minority on the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, spearheaded by ranking member GOP Rep. Darrell Issa, isn’t taking “no comment” or it’s all “in the past” or “I already answered the question” for an answer:

Issa, a Southern California pol who on numerous occasions has accused the administration of ”Chicago-like politics,” has demanded the White House come clean about the alleged job offer.

He is the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform panel. He has sent the White House two letters, on March 10 and March 22, asking specific questions about Sestak’s claim.

Issa has not received a response, according to his spokesman, Kurt Bardella.

In the second letter, Issa gave the White House until April 5 to respond.

Bardella said Issa would extend the deadline, giving the Obama administration until after the Easter holiday to answer before contacting U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and asking that a special prosecutor investigate whether a crime had been committed.

”Either Joe Sestak is lying or the White House is lying,” Bardella said. ”There is no gray area here.”

Hey, isn’t it time for the White House to hold another “Open Questions” session soon? The stonewalls are piling up.

Dodge, baby, dodge.

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