House Republican Reps. Darrell Issa (Calif.) and Lamar Smith (Texas) are hoping that if they speak loudly and often enough about allegations that the White House used job offers to try to clear Senate primaries in Colorado and Pennsylvania, someone will eventually listen.
Issa, the ranking member on the Oversight and Government Reform panel, and Smith, the top GOP member of the Judiciary Committee, plan to keep pressing the administration for more information about job offers that it allegedly dangled in front of Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak and former Colorado Speaker Andrew Romanoff to deter them from mounting primary challenges to incumbent Democrats.
Judiciary Democrats on Wednesday killed a Republican attempt to force Attorney General Eric Holder to turn over documents related to any guidance or recommendations that his department gave the White House about the Sestak and Romanoff job offers.
Democrats dismiss the Republican campaign to probe circumstances surrounding the allegations as a naked political ploy that will fail to resonate with the public.
Its all about scoring political points, said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a Judiciary member who listened to a slew of Republicans deliver statements railing against the administration at Wednesdays markup. I dont think you can find an expert on either side of the aisle who argues theres a credible case here for some impropriety. ... I think theyre missing the boat. They honestly think its a good political line of attack, but I dont think it resonates very well.
But Republicans are digging in and plan to continue to press the matter between now and the November elections.
Smith said he is considering scheduling a minority forum or an unofficial hearing run by Republicans where he would call on campaign and legal experts to testify about the administrations promises and transparency and so forth. Smith may also seek testimony from individuals such as former President Bill Clinton, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina who Republicans argue could have direct knowledge of the Sestak and Romanoff offers.
The White House has insisted the administration did nothing wrong and has disputed charges that officials tried to use job offers to dissuade Sestak or Romanoff from running.
Issa was the first GOP Member to seize on the issue after Sestak responded yes to a question posed during a local radio interview in February about whether he was offered a job by the White House to bow out of the Pennsylvania Senate primary against Sen. Arlen Specter. More Republicans joined his crusade late last month when the White House admitted to enlisting Clinton as a go-between to raise the possibility with Sestak that he could snag an unpaid presidential advisory post if he remained in the House instead of challenging Specter. Romanoff added fuel to the fire on June 2 when he acknowledged that Messina called him in September 2009 and suggested three positions that might be available were he to drop his plans to mount a primary challenge to Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet.