Rendell says he too offered job to a Pennsylvania congressman

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
Font Size:

Just days after the Obama administration claimed it did nothing improper by offering Rep. Joe Sestak a job to drop out of the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary,  a sitting governor has announced that he too once offered a politician a job to convince him to stay out of a race.

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” said such offers have “happened in politics for time immemorial.”

“I did the same thing in 2006 to ask a former congressman, Joe Hoeffel, to drop out of the race against Bob Casey in the primary,” Rendell told Fox News’ Chris Wallace.

Sestak admitted months ago that the Obama administration offered him a job to back out of his primary challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary. Sestak went on to win that race. But it wasn’t until Friday that the White House Counsel’s Office divulged details about the offer and admitted that it was former President Bill Clinton who offered Sestak a non-paying advisory board position.

In 2006, Rendell said that he didn’t exactly offer Hoeffel a job quid pro quo but rather dangled the prospect of a job in front of him to convince him not to run. “I said come back and see me if you do it,” Rendell explained. “He came back and saw me, and he was out of public service.  I appointed him as a deputy secretary of commerce.  He did a great job.”

Rendell argued that, just as he committed no crime in 2006, there was nothing illegal about Clinton asking Sestak to drop out of the race.

But Rep. Darrell Issa, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, attempted to draw a distinction between the two examples. He said on “Fox News Sunday” that Rendell’s offer to Hoeffel was different because the Pennsylvania governor “carefully made sure he did not offer [Hoeffel] a job as a quid pro quo.”

“Gov. Rendell just made the point for us.  If he had offered a job in order to get out of the race, it would have been a crime, a crime under a law signed, of all things, by President Clinton during his administration,” Issa said.

As for the Sestak offer, Issa said, “It’s clearly a crime.”

“Anyone can go online and read 18 USC 600 and see that this — that what the White House is now saying happened falls under the statute,” he said. (CLICK TO READ THE STATUTE)

Even Rendell admitted the Obama administration mishandled its explanation of the Sestak situation.

“Stonewalling it for months — yes, not smart.  This explanation is perfectly reasonable.  They should have put it out there at the beginning,” he said.



Email Alex Pappas and follow him on Twitter