Senators mum on whether Obama administration should explain details on job offer to Sestak

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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The Republican National Committee is demanding more details on whether Pennsylvania Democrat Joe Sestak was offered a job by the Obama administration in exchange for dropping out of the Pennsylvania Senate race against Sen. Arlen Specter.

Senators, asked Tuesday if the Obama administration has the responsibility to release more information on the alleged quid-pro-quo, were mostly mum.

Democrat Carl Levin of Michigan said, “I think the White House has said what it’s going to say on it. I don’t know more than that.”

The Democrats weren’t the only ones with closed mouths. “I don’t know anything about all that,” said Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, a Republican.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, standing in an elevator off the Senate floor, said he was not aware of the Sestak story at all. When The Daily Caller explained it, Rockefeller simply replied, “I guess that’s between them if it’s true.”

Sestak himself — who went on to defeat Specter earlier this month in Pennsylvania’s Democratic primary — first alleged the bribery by telling a Pennsylvania radio host that a White House official offered him a job in exchange that he not run for Senate. He has since acknowledged that being the case, but has not elaborated.

RNC Chairman Michael Steele on Tuesday released a video on the RNC’s website calling for more information on the deal from Obama. In the video, he encouraged citizens to use Twitter to demand answers from White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. The press secretary refused to answer more than 12 separate questions on the matter last Thursday, but then appeared on a Sunday talk show and said “nothing inappropriate happened.”

Earlier on Tuesday, according to the Hill, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, speaking with reporters, agreed with Republicans that Sestak needs to be more forthcoming with details on the deal. Later in the day, Durbin denied ever saying he called for Sestak to “name names.” He said his comments were characterized that way by aides to Rep. Darrell Issa, the California Republican who has pursued the administration with questions about what happened between Sestak and White House officials.

“I didn’t say that,” Durbin later clarified with reporters. “I said let him clarify what happened. I don’t know what happened.”

Durbin said that at the Democratic senators’ weekly lunch lawmakers gave a standing ovation to Specter on the occasion of his first time back with the entire caucus since his loss to Rep. Joe Sestak in the Democratic primary a week ago.

“Harry Reid saluted him for not only his physical courage as he’s battled cancer and brain surgery, but his moral and political courage to help us pass the stimulus plus historic health care, and then the kind of class act he is to say, election night, I’m for Joe Sestak,” Durbin said.

Specter then introduced Sestak before the congressman spoke to the Democratic senators.

“Sestak made a very positive impression,” Durbin said. “Everybody in that room felt like Arlen had done the right thing.”

Obama, visiting Republican senators on Capitol Hill Tuesday, also refused to answer questions about the report. With his back turned towards reporters, he ignored a question on the job offer and shook hands with congressional pages just off the Senate floor instead.

Fox News reported Tuesday afternoon that the allegation will be formally addressed by the Obama administration this week.

Jon Ward contributed to this report.

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