When Pete Buttigieg dropped out the Democratic primary on Sunday, he didn’t immediately make any endorsement.
While being interviewed on KHOU 11 News in Houston, Texas, on Monday, Biden revealed he’d discussed giving Buttigieg a position in his administration.
“I did speak to Pete Buttigieg a couple of days ago to encouraged him to stay engaged because he has enormous talent and I indicated to him that if I became the nominee, I’d be coming to ask him to be a part of an administration to be engaged in moving things forward,” Biden said.
Just finished 1 on 1 interview with @JoeBiden after his event @TexasSouthern Asked him about reports @PeteButtigieg and @amyklobuchar will endorse him tonight in #Dallas. #Biden wouldn't confirm but did say this ⬇️ #khou11 #HtownRush pic.twitter.com/Acer6Vghul
— Marcelino Benito (@MarcelinoKHOU) March 2, 2020
Buttigieg dropped out on Sunday. If Biden’s timeline is accurate, that he offered Buttigieg a position in his administration a couple of days before his Monday interview, which would be Saturday, then Biden may have convinced Buttigieg to drop out in exchange for that position. Even if Biden offered him that position on Sunday, after Buttigieg dropped out, the offer came before Buttigieg officially endorsed Biden on Monday.
That would make the offer of a job in his administration illegal.
18 U.S. Code § 599 is pretty clear on this. “Whoever, being a candidate, directly or indirectly promises or pledges the appointment, or the use of his influence or support for the appointment of any person to any public or private position or employment, for the purpose of procuring support in his candidacy shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if the violation was willful, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.”
Now, I don’t expect anything will happen to Joe Biden for making an illegal job offer. Some would argue this kind of thing happens all the time. Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich essentially argued the same thing about his attempt to sell Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat–though obviously some prosecutors and juries disagreed.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis