On Sunday, Joe Sestak, the former Pennsylvania congressman, became the latest Democrat to jump into the crowded 2020 Democrat primary. Most people probably haven’t heard of him or remember who is, and I’m sure Barack Obama is thrilled about that, because Joe Sestak is connected to a scandal where Obama broke federal law.
Back in 2009, the moderate Republican Senator Arlen Specter switched to the Democratic Party after weeks of being pressured by Obama to switch parties when polls showed Specter’s Republican challenger Pat Toomey defeating Specter. So, Specter switched parties in exchange for Obama’s endorsement and help with fundraising… which he got. And that’s where Joe Sestak comes in. Sestak, a Navy veteran and two-term Democrat congressman, had been planning to run for the U.S. Senate before Specter switched parties. Without establishment support, Sestak jumped into the race anyway.
The problem was that Obama didn’t want Sestak to run. He’d already backed Specter, the incumbent. So, Obama did what any corrupt politician tends to do: he broke the law.
In the summer of 2009, Sestak was offered a job in the Obama administration; in order to accept it, he’d have to end his campaign. Sestak revealed this in a February 2010 radio interview, and the Obama White House was forced to admit they did, in fact, offer Sestak a job to drop out of the race. In fact, former president Bill Clinton had been enlisted to make the offer.
Naturally, when the Obama White House admitted what they did, they claimed there was nothing ethically or legally wrong with what happened. According to Judicial Watch, Obama broke at least four federal laws: 18 USC 210: Offer to procure appointive public office; 18 USC 211: Acceptance of solicitation to obtain appointive public office; 18 USC 595: Interference by administrative employees by Federal, State or Territorial Governments; and 18 USC 600: Promise of employment or other benefit for political activity. Here’s what U.S. Code Title 18 Section 600, says:
Whoever, directly or indirectly, promises any employment, position, compensation, contract, appointment, or other benefit, provided for or made possible in whole or in part by any Act of Congress, or any special consideration in obtaining any such benefit, to any person as 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 general or special election to any political office, or in connection with any primary election or political convention or caucus held to select candidates for any political office, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
If justice had prevailed, Obama would have been fined or imprisoned for making the offer to Sestak. This was an impeachable offense. The House Oversight Committee did launch an investigation, and the Obama White House, which claimed everything was above board, refused to cooperate. The White House ignored subpoenas and launched their own internal “investigation,” which they thought would settle the matter—which didn’t please Republicans on the Oversight Committee one bit. Even left-wing journalist David Corn acknowledged in a Mother Jones column that “any conversation of this sort—if it indeed occurred—would have violated the law.” That the conversation occurred is not in doubt. Obama violated the law.
It wasn’t until after Sestak defeated Specter in the Democrat primary that the Obama White House, after months of stonewalling, finally disclosed their version of what happened. They released a memo on Memorial Day weekend that acknowledged the offer occured, but still denied any wrongdoing on the part of the White House. “We have concluded that allegations of improper conduct rest on factual errors and lack a basis in the law,” they claimed in the report. The mainstream media echoed the White House interpretation of what happened. The law, however, is quite clear.
Fortunately for Obama, Sestak was ultimately defeated by Republican Pat Toomey and Republicans lost interest in pursuing an investigation. Had Sestak won, who knows how things would have turned out. It was a serious scandal, and the law is quite clear that what Obama did was illegal, and merited possible imprisonment. Despite the significance of Sestak’s past involvement in a serious Obama scandal, when the New York Times’ reported on Sestak’s entry to the 2020 race, the scandal from ten years ago was predictably absent. It was also ignored by CBS, NBC, CNN, The Hill… basically everywhere. While the media has apparently “forgotten” the scandal, I haven’t.
Matt Margolis is the author of the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. His new book, Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy, will be published on July 30, 2019. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis