Sestack and the “job offer”

This is really interesting:

By Dick Morris

By Dick Morris and Judge Andrew Napolitano

With a Democratic Attorney General in Washington, a Democratic president, and both houses of Congress solidly in Democratic control, it is obviously futile to hope that the possible bribery of Joe Sestak to induce him to withdraw from the Senate race against Arlen Specter will be fully investigated.  But, as the facts of this scandal grudgingly emerge from the White House and from Congressman Sestak, there is an alternative way to pursue justice.

The Pennsylvania Attorney General, Tom Corbett — who is the Republican nominee for Governor this year — has ample jurisdiction to convene a grand jury to get to the bottom of the scandal and answer the key questions:

1. Who offered a job to Sestak?
2. What job was proffered?
3. And did the president know of the offer?

Corbett’s jurisdiction stems from the concept of universal jurisdiction, now accepted virtually everywhere.  The concept is simple.  If someone on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River fires a pistol across the Hudson and the bullet from the pistol hits someone on the NY side, where did the crime take place? For about 600 years, the answer would have been in NY, where the harm was caused. Under the Reagan administration, and in response to urgings from the Meese Justice Department, the courts began to accept the doctrine of universal jurisdiction. This principle gives jurisdiction to law enforcement in the place wherever any act occurred that may have resulted in a crime. Thus, under our scenario above, the shooter could be prosecuted in NJ or NY.

Thus, if Cong. Sestak was in one of his homes, in PA or VA, when he received a telephone call offering him a job if he withdrew from the PA Senate primary against Sen. Arlen Specter, law enforcement authorities in PA and VA — both of which have Republican state Attorneys General — can subpoena Cong. Sestak to testify before a state grand jury and compel him to answer the who, what, when, and where that everyone has a right to know.

The people of the United States and, particularly the people of Pennsylvania, want these questions to be answered honestly.  They will not settle for a Democratic stonewall that refuses to let the truth emerge.

Under our federal system, we need not tolerate giving one party the power to be the prosecutor, judge, defendant, defense attorney, and jury.  We can open the process to checks and balances.

Corbett should make it possible for the truth to emerge by convening a grand jury and summoning Sestak, Emanuel, and anyone else who may have been involved to answer questions under oath.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. GordonB says:

    I hear Jack Bauer may be available to get to the bottom of this…

  2. ajwagner54 says:

    This is just a goofy article. As it was pointed out the other day, “it is never a crime to offer a job to a qualified candidate.”

  3. ajwagner54 says:

    Also, Ronald Reagan’s administration did the same thing… so if it’s illegal now, it was illegal then too. Democrats controlled Congress at the time so you’d think they’d have been all over Reagan if it was actually illegal.,6653372&hl=en

  4. Jerry says:

    re: ajwagner54 – “if it’s illegal now, it was illegal then”

    Not necessarily. _If_ it is illegal now, it may violate a law passed since 1981 (when the Reagan incident occurred) — perhaps even one passed in response to that incident.

    OT: Did anyone else notice the second article below the one about Reagan’s job offer to Sen. Hayakawa: an announcement of the birth of Barbara and Jenna Bush?

  5. Lurker 59 says:

    Federal Statute 18 U.S.C. § 600 makes it unlawful for anyone 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 connection with any primary election”

    David Axelrod has said that if Sestak was offered a job for dropping out of the race it would “constitute a serious breach of the law.”

    Sestak has said repeatedly, and used the job offer during his primary campagn to gather support, that as he told Comcast’s Larry Kane in February that the White House had offered him a specific position in exchange for not challenging Specter.

    If Sestak is telling the truth and he was directly offered a specific position (most likely Sec. of the Navy) that is questionably in violation of Federal Statute 18 U.S.C. § 600. It is of note that Bush administration chief ethics lawyer
    Richard Painter has said that if Sestak is telling the truth it would not be a violation of the law. However, again, Axelrod has said it it would be.

    The incident refered to by ajwagner54 is better described in this AP article where it is quite clear that the Reagan administration did not do what Sestak is claiming that the Obama administration did, that is an official direct specific job offer.,5317656

    Sources used in the above

  6. Joe Magarac says:

    Corbett (a Reublican) is not going to do this. He just finished prosecuting corrupt members of the PA legislature. Because most (but not all) of the people he prosecuted were Democrats, there was a lot of media hype suggesting that he had a vendetta against Democrats. That is not hype he wants or needs: most PA voters are Democrats, and he needs their votes to become governor. So he is not going to do something that makes him appear to be targeting Democrats.

  7. PAT says:

    Well, if it’s never a crime to offer a job to a qualified candidate, then the indictment against Rod Blagojevich can be dismissed immediately. All of those with whom he was bartering for that vacant Illinois senate seat were at least as qualified as was Obama himself.

  8. ljc says:

    Did you see the video of Gibbs being questioned about it?

  9. robtbrown says:

    This is just a goofy article. As it was pointed out the other day, “it is never a crime to offer a job to a qualified candidate.”
    Comment by ajwagner54

    What if a bribe is involved? It’s possible that a highly qualified candidate could offer a bribe for a job. The problem is not offering a job but rather pressuring Sestak not to run–it’s a matter of undermining the electoral process.

    The real problem in this matter is Sestak himself. My guess is that the WH said something like, “If you should decide to drop out of the Senatorial election, we have an opening at SecNavy”. If that happened, there’s no quid pro quo. Sestak, however, said otherwise.

  10. EXCHIEF says:

    Was it illegal? Good question. How about the question “was it ethical”? In this regime ethics matter not.

  11. JonM says:

    Meanwhile, unemployment hangs around 18%; recent college graduates face 80% unemployment.

    This is silliness. First of all, political jobs have always gone to those who know the employer (in fact most jobs in general work that way.). It’s not like a person fills out an application and they are assiduously compared.

    Now regarding quid pro quo jobs, this is just how the government works. It’s nothing that new in our history, though it’s more obvious now because of the sheer size of government and advanced communications.

    The GOP doesn’t really want to talk about why it wants to give Goldman Sachs more money via the Greek bailout, so FoxNews will make a scandal out of something that would require pretty much the entire government to head down to Jessup.

  12. Titus says:

    Judge Napolitano (if this is the judge Napolitano I’m familiar with at least) is ordinarily a pretty straight shooter, so I’m surprised by some of the odd assertions here.

    First, “universal jurisdiction” is not anything like a generally accepted concept. States can enforce their criminal laws only against people who commit crimes within that state. A state’s ability to project its power into neighboring jurisdictions is at its lowest ebb where penal laws are concerned. It might very well be a crime in Pennsylvania to offer a person a bribe, and the state may very well regard the situs of that crime as the location of the person being offered the bribe. But that is not because of the concept to which people generally refer as “universal jurisdiction.”

    Secondly, Pennsylvania can only indict a person for violating Pennsylvania law. The states do not have the power to prosecute federal crimes. State courts do have the power to entertain federal civil actions and must enforce federal laws that apply in other cases, but these situations are distinct. So it would have to be a Pennsylvania crime to offer a person a position in exchange for his abstention from a political race in order for this to be plausible.

  13. chcrix says:

    I do not see a problem in investigating this.

    However, there is one thing missing from the list:

    1. Who offered a job to Sestak?
    2. What job was proffered?
    3. And did the president know of the offer?

    That is point #0. Was a job in fact offered to Sestak?
    That must also be considered.

  14. KevinSymonds says:

    There seems to be a developing pattern with this administration of, “I’ll give you this, if you do that.”

    Sestak might be the latest poster-boy for the pattern, following closely on the heels of Stupak.

    Then there’s the Hillary Clinton case wherein she backed out on every negative thing she said when offered the prize of Secretary of State under Obama.

    Of course, one can’t forget Joe Biden, who sold his soul, his honor, and his Catholic faith to Obama in exchange for the Vice-Presidency.

    It makes me sick.

  15. horta says:

    I am distressed when I see a priest who I respect become a schill (sp) for Fox News. Please stick to the red and black, proper translations and related matters. [FoxNews carried the story long before anyone else. When FoxNews put this story on their site, CNN had as its banner that actor Gary Coleman was in the hospital. Find your news where you prefer. I look at many sites.]

  16. Vincenzo says:

    “1. Who offered a job to Sestak?”

    Possibly Bill Clinton.

  17. Stu says:

    Lighten up horta. It’s simply an interesting news story. You know, we can also discuss such things with priests as well. In fact, it’s often quite enjoyable and even more so, dare I say, over a beer.

    Anyway, I have actually worked alongside Congressman Sestak when he was in the Navy while on the OPNAV staff. He was a CAPT (Admiral select) and I was a LT. While he is very intelligent (this blunder excluded) and quite charming, he is a monster when it comes to have to work for him. He is overly demanding of his staff and overall treats them very poorly. In fact, I had a “run-in” with him when he started to treat me in a similar manner after agreeing to do him a favor researching some facts and figures. If anything good comes of this, it maybe that some Congressional staffers don’t have to deal with him any longer. :)

  18. catholicmidwest says:

    “it is never a crime to offer a job to a qualified candidate.”

    It is if it’s done in trade for a political favor. It’s absolutely against the law.

    IT may be business as usual in Chicago, one of the most corrupt cities in the country, but it’s still against the law, and should not be happening on a national level. These people are CROOKS.

  19. Papabile says:


    Being a staffer, and one who experienced him back when he was doing his Net-Centric schtick, and then as a member, I can directly confirm what you are saying.

    Here on the Hill, he is known for having one of the highest staff turnover rates.

    I’ve seen him rip apart an 0-4 because he didn’t change a slide at a precise moment in time. I’ve seen him operate on HASC.

    It’s not a fun sight.

    The best thing about him running for the Senate is that, regardless of the outcome of the election, the House will be a better place.

  20. robtbrown says:

    I am distressed when I see a priest who I respect become a schill (sp) for Fox News.

    Please stick to the red and black, proper translations and related matters.
    Comment by horta

    It appears that you haven’t been watching the other networks–they have been pounding on this. It was also a topic at the Obama news conference yesterday.

    One other point: It was not Fox that made this a big deal. It was Joe Sestak.

  21. chironomo says:

    It’s possible that a highly qualified candidate could offer a bribe for a job

    I think the significant factor in this, at least legally, is that the offer of a job IS the bribe. That is the point of the 18 USC 600…. it is an extension of already existing statutes that extends the definition of “bribe” to include offers of jobs when the person doing the “offering” has the specific powers to make such an offer. That’s why there was such an emphasis in this morning’s presser that Clinton “had no power to gaurantee a job”. However, everyone is wll aware that Rahm Emmanuel DOES have such power, and so they put an additional person between Rahm and Clinton by saying that Rahm Emmanuel “had someone contact the former president and ask him to talk to Sestak”. Rahm didn’t talk to Bill, and Bill has no authority….lawyers at their best.

  22. Papabile says:

    This would probably be the relevant Pennsylvania ststute:

    18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 4701. Bribery in official and political matters.
    (a) Offenses defined.–A person is guilty of bribery, a
    felony of the third degree, if he offers, confers or agrees to
    confer upon another, or solicits, accepts or agrees to accept
    from another:
    (1) any pecuniary benefit as consideration for the
    decision, opinion, recommendation, vote or other exercise of
    discretion as a public servant, party official or voter by
    the recipient;
    (2) any benefit as consideration for the decision, vote,
    recommendation or other exercise of official discretion by
    the recipient in a judicial, administrative or legislative
    proceeding; or
    (3) any benefit as consideration for a violation of a
    known legal duty as public servant or party official.
    (b) Defenses prohibited.–It is no defense to prosecution
    under this section that a person whom the actor sought to
    influence was not qualified to act in the desired way whether
    because he had not yet assumed office, had left office, or
    lacked jurisdiction, or for any other reason.

    Cross References. Section 4701 is referred to in section
    5708 of this title; section 3304 of Title 5 (Athletics and
    Sports); section 5552 of Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial

  23. MichaelJ says:


    Despite its paradoxical nature, no matter how bad a problem is or how eggregious a crime, there will always be something worse. Where do you suppose we would be if everyone adopted the philosophy you seem to be promoting? What would happen if everyone summarily dismissed adressing a problem because there were worse problems to deal with?

    So yes, I agree that if recent college graduates face 80% unemployment, it is a much bigger problem than corruption and bribery in the Federal Government, but I cannot simply dismiss the corruption as “silliness”

  24. JonM says:


    Great summation.

    I was also surprised to find that Judge Napalitono was employing such strange legal reasoning.

    For me, this story gets tucked in the Distraction/Britney Spears hair-style file. Well, that might be harsh; at least the Sky is Blue file.

  25. Random Friar says:


    I do not think the good father is a shill for anything, save the Faith.

    That said, if this blog were to become “What Do the Politicians REALLY Say?” — then I would think that Fr. Z. would have no time for anything else!

  26. Susan the Short says:

    Back on March 20, 2010, New England Catholic blogspot carried this entry, with reference to an article in The American Spectator of March 16:

    It seems the Obama Administration is offering jobs in the White House to Democratic candidates running in sensitive districts, saying in effect: “Don’t run. We want the other guy to win. In exchange, we’ll give you a post in Washington.”

    It is a federal crime to offer jobs for a favor. It is also a crime to fail to report it.

    From the American Spectator:
    • “September 27, 2009 — The Denver Post reports that Obama White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina allegedly offered a job in the Obama administration to ex-Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff if Romanoff dropped his planned primary challenge to incumbent U.S. Senator Michael Bennet. Romanoff refuses comment and runs anyway.

    • February 18, 2010 — Philadelphia TV anchor Larry Kane reports that on his just taped Comcast show, he had asked Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak, who is challenging incumbent Senator Arlen Specter whether it was true that the Obama administration had offered Sestak a job if he would withdraw from his primary challenge to Specter. Sestak answers “yes,” specifically saying the offer came from someone in the White House and that he, Sestak, turned down the offer. Sestak refuses to name who it was that made the offer. Two hours later, Kane calls the White House, plays them the tape, and asks for comment. The White House never calls him back.”

    Where’s that promised transparency? Let’s see how long it takes the main stream media to reveal this misprision of a felony.

  27. Dave N. says:

    Any article with Clinton svengali Dick Morris in the byline brings credibility down about eight notches.

  28. Dave N: brings credibility down about eight notches

    Why is that?

  29. robtbrown says:

    The GOP doesn’t really want to talk about why it wants to give Goldman Sachs more money via the Greek bailout, so FoxNews will make a scandal out of something that would require pretty much the entire government to head down to Jessup.
    Comment by JonM

    You seem wildly uninformed.

    If you think the Dems aren’t in bed with Goldman Sachs, then you are naive. Ever hear of Robert Rubin, Jon Corzine, and Henry Paulson? All were CEO’s of Goldman Sachs. All are Democrats (Paulson said his mother almost killed him for working for Bush).

    BTW, in so far as the Dems control both cameras and the White House, it doesn’t make any difference what the GOP wants.

    And if you had been watching MSNBC, you would know that Fox News didn’t invent the Sestak situation. MSNBC has given lots of attention given (some by Wash Post reporters) to the Sestak situation.

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