Issa, Rendell Spar Over Sestak Job Offer

Posted May 30, 2010 at 9:05am

Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania on Sunday said luring candidates out of races with job offers was a routine part of political life, adding, “I did the same thing in 2006” when he made efforts to persuade then-Rep. Joe Hoeffel to drop his primary campaign against now-Sen. Bob Casey (D).

Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.), who appeared with Rendell on “Fox News Sunday,” and other Republicans have charged that the Obama White House broke the law by offering an unpaid job to Rep. Joe Sestak in exchange for his exit from the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary.

Sestak said Friday he flatly rejected an offer for an unpaid position from former President Bill Clinton. Sestak went on to defeat Sen. Arlen Specter for the Democratic nomination.

Rendell explained that he did not offer Hoeffel a job in exchange for leaving the race, but added that he later gave the former Member a position in his administration.

“Gov. Rendell just made the case for us,” Issa asserted. “If he offered a job to get out of the race, it would’ve been a crime.”

Issa said the Obama administration was “coming up with nonplausible explanations” for what happened with Sestak, and he repeated his call for an FBI investigation. “Sure, it happens all the time,” Issa said. “But it’s usually been crafted so it doesn’t create a quid pro quo.”

Issa suggested there may have been similar offers to Democratic primary candidates in Colorado and Illinois but offered no specific information. “I don’t want to be investigating this,” he said in calling for an independent probe.

Rendell waved off the dispute as a non-event and a non-crime.

“We’ve got huge problems in this country,” Rendell said. “This is a waste of time. Let’s let Rep. Sestak and Pat Toomey debate the issues.” Toomey is the GOP Senate nominee.

Rendell rejected the characterization of Clinton as a “political fixer” in this affair, saying the ex-president was a close friend of Sestak’s.

The governor took a poke at the White House, saying: “Stonewalling it for months? Not smart.”

But Rendell asserted that President Barack Obama has “brought a new level of ethical standards to Washington. … But he’s not perfect and there are certain things that have to go on to get things done, and this is one of them.”

Issa countered by saying, “It’s business as usual and corruption as politics.”