Specter to Sestak: ‘Put Up or Shut Up’ On White House Job Offer
April 8, 2010 - 4:59 PMSen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) again called on rival Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) to provide more proof that the White House offered him a high-level administration job in exchange for him dropping his challenge in the Senate Democratic primary race.
Sestak's claim of a job offer has become a major issue in the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic primary. The White House, meanwhile, has yet to offer a clear-cut explanation.
Specter made his latest comment about Sestak at an editorial board meeting with the Delaware County-Daily Times of Primos, Pa. It comes at a time when Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) also is seeking more answers from the White House about the alleged job offer. Legal experts have said such an offer, if it happened, would be illegal.
The senator told the newspaper that Sestak should “put up or shut up” by providing more information about the offer if it ever happened.
Specter, a former district attorney and former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said that offering a job in exchange for dropping out of a race could constitute bribery.
However, he stopped short of that claim in his meeting with the newspaper.
“I’m not saying things like that aren’t done, but where are the specifics?” Specter said. “Who did it? What were the circumstances? What did they say? What was the offer?”
Sestak first affirmed the allegation in February when Philadelphia TV newscaster Larry Kane asked him if the White House “offered a federal job to get out of this race.”
Sestak answered, “Yes,” but declined to tell Kane what the job was or who made the offer, although he did affirm that it was a high-level job.
Sestak also has confirmed in numerous interviews that the offer was made in exchange for quitting the primary race, but each time he has declined to provide further details.
“Having been asked a question that no one had ever asked me before, I answered it honestly,” Sestak told the Allentown (Pa.) Morning Call last week. “The politics of what happens after, I'm not interested in. There are other things we have to focus on.”
The White House at first declined to comment on the matter.
But on March 16, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs finally answered reporters’ inquiries by stating, “I’ve talked to several people in the White House. I’ve talked to people who have talked to others in the White House. I’m told that whatever conversations have been had, are not problematic. I think Congressman Sestak has discussed that this is – whatever happened is in the past and he is focused on this primary.”
This week, Gibbs was asked about the matter again and he referred to his previous statement.
Meanwhile, Issa –ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee – is poised to formally ask Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to look into the matter if the White House counsel’s office does not answer questions Issa submitted about White House communications with Sestak.
Issa gave the White House a deadline of April 5 to respond to the matter, which the counsel’s office missed as of Monday.