Myths and falsehoods about the Sestak and Romanoff controversies

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

Media Matters for America has compiled a list of the myths and falsehoods about the White House's conversations with Democratic Senate candidates Joe Sestak and Andrew Romanoff concerning those candidates taking positions in the administration.

Myth: Romanoff was offered a job to exit Senate race

Myth: White House committed a crime during Romanoff conversations

Myth: White House previously "lie[d]" about Romanoff discussions

Myth: Romanoff is a "liar" for prior comments about WH discussions

Myth: Sestak offer violated federal law

Myth: Sestak offer violated bribery statute

Myth: Sestak offer violated law banning "promise of employment... for political activity"

Myth: Sestak offer violated laws on offers or solicitations to obtain office

Myth: Sestak offer violated law governing political "interference" by federal employees

Myth: Sestak offer violated Hatch Act

Myth: Sestak offer was unusual

Myth: Sestak was offered position of Secretary of the Navy

Myth: Sestak and Romanoff discussions analogous to Blagojevich allegations

Myth: Romanoff was offered a job to exit Senate race

CLAIM: White House "involved in a controversial job offer" to get Romanoff to drop out of CO race. Right-wing media -- including Fox News' Gretchen Carlson and Sean Hannity -- have falsely claimed that the White House offered Romanoff a job in exchange for dropping out of Colorado's U.S. Senate election. For example, on the June 3 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Carlson called Romanoff "another candidate for U.S. Senate involved in a controversial job offer by the White House" after "A new report says the White House offered him a job within the administration if he decided he would not run."

REALITY: Both Romanoff and the White House deny that a job was offered. Both Romanoff and the White House have stated that at no point was a job offered to Romanoff. They have said that a White House aide listed positions that could be available to Romanoff were he not running for office -- one of which Romanoff had previously applied for -- but said that he could not guarantee that Romanoff would receive the position.

FACT: Romanoff stated "At no time was I promised a job." According to The Associated Press, Romanoff said in a statement that Messina contacted him and "suggested three positions that might be available to me were I not pursuing the Senate race" but that Messina "could not guarantee my appointment to any of these positions." Romanoff also reportedly stated: "At no time was I promised a job, nor did I request Mr. Messina's assistance in obtaining one."

FACT: White House stated that "there was no offer of a job," and Messina was, in part, following up on a job application Romanoff had submitted. According to the AP article, White House official Bill Burton said: "Mr. Romanoff was recommended to the White House from Democrats in Colorado for a position in the administration. ... There were some initial conversations with him, but no job was ever offered." On June 3, the White House released a statement noting that Romanoff "applied for a position at USAID during the Presidential transition" and later "followed up by phone with White House personnel." The statement added that "Messina called and emailed Romanoff last September to see if he was still interested in a position at USAID, or if, as had been reported, he was running for the US Senate." The White House further noted, "As Mr. Romanoff has stated, there was no offer of a job."

Myth: White House committed a crime during Romanoff conversations

CLAIM: White House conversations with Romanoff violated 18 U.S.C. § 600. Right-wing bloggers have suggested that the White House's discussions with Romanoff were in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 600, a federal statute that governs the "promise of employment or other benefit for political activity."

REALITY: Bush ethics advisor repudiated claim that Romanoff discussions were illegal, and legal experts have denied the statute applies in similar cases. Richard Painter, former White House ethics advisor to President Bush, has said that it is a "real stretch" to say the White House's conversations with Romanoff violated the law. Moreover, in analyzing the Sestak case, legal experts have repudiated the claim that 18 U.S.C. § 600 applies even in cases where a job offer was actually made.

FACT: Bush ethics adviser Painter: "a real stretch" to say White House actions violated law. In a June 3 article, the Huffington Post reported of the Romanoff story:

And yet, on the most fundamental question -- whether laws, in fact, were broken -- it remains a non-story. At least according to the chief ethics lawyer for the Bush administration.

"I don't think it violates government ethics," said Richard Painter, now a professor of law at University of Minnesota. "I don't think it's fair for the voters for the White House to intentionally try to take someone out of the running... I don't like it. But does it violate government ethic rules or the Hatch Act? That's a real stretch, and if the bribery statute's off the table, that doesn't work at all."

In an interview with the Huffington Post, Painter said that the while the floating of three administration positions to Colorado Democratic Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff is objectionable in obvious ways, claims that it violated the law are baseless. For starters, if Romanoff had taken the position, he would have effectively been prohibited from running for office. The federal government may have affected the course of the campaign by offering him the post. But it didn't meddle in the campaign itself (an important legal distinction).

"The problem with the so-called bribery theory, or quid pro quo theory, is that automatically if you take those jobs, any full-time government job, you're prohibited from running for public office under the Hatch Act," said Painter. "So it's a necessary position subsequent to taking the job... you have to withdraw from the Senate race. So I don't see how you could describe that as a quid pro quo at all."

FACT: Law professor Hasen: "I can't find a case" where statute "has ever been applied in this way." Discussing 18 U.S.C. § 600, Hasen stated on Fox News' On the Record:

HASEN: I went back and looked at this Section 600, the one that says about these job offers. That seems to be a statute that's really aimed at preventing patronage appointments. That is, you know, giving people who have done political favors for you jobs where they make money. I can't find a case where it's ever been applied in this way, and I think there are some good reasons why it probably shouldn't be. What we have here, really, is a political deal. It's a deal to say in order to strengthen the party, one of the two people competing should step aside. It's the kind of thing that happens all the time, and it's the kind of thing that probably is not what the statute was really designed to prevent.

FACT: CREW's Sloan said criminal allegations based on this interpretation of law are "ludicrous." In a May 27 blog post, NBC News' Mark Murray reported:

Melanie Sloan, the executive director of watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said that criminal allegations in the Sestak case are "ludicrous." She points out that there has never been a prosecution under the 1972 law cited by the Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans. "There's no definition of 'political activity' within the law," she said. "It's really not a very well-written statute."

FACT: The Atlantic's Ambinder said "law has never been used to criminalize low-level political horsetrading." In a June 3 post, The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder wrote: "The letter of federal law is designed to prevent direct quid-pro-quo situations where financial incentives are in lay and protect the rival politician from harm should he or she decide to make a decision that goes against the wishes of the powerful executive branch. But that law has never been used to criminalize low-level political horsetrading." Ambinder further wrote:

This is the reason why ethics lawyers can read the text of the statutes, which seem to be clear, and conclude that no prosecutor in his or her right mind would ever bring a case against a White House for doing what the Obama White House did. However, since the Obama White House holds itself as an avatar of ethical excellence, it might have to hold itself to a higher standard than other White Houses. That is an optical problem, not a legal one.

Myth: White House previously "lie[d]" about Romanoff discussions

CLAIM: White House statement that Romanoff "was never offered a position" is a "lie." In a June 2 HotAir.com post, AllahPundit stated: "The news here isn't that Andrew Romanoff was offered a job to help clear the way for Michael Bennet in the Senate primary; the Denver Post reported that allllll the way back in September of last year, citing multiple sources in the state Democratic leadership. The news is that the White House denied it at the time and that unnamed "administration officials" are formally un-denying it now." AllahPundit then cited a White House spokesman's September 2009 comment that "Mr. Romanoff was never offered a position within the administration," and commented, "That was the lie, and now comes the truth."

REALITY: White House has consistently said no job was offered, a statement supported by Romanoff's comments. In September 2009, a White House spokesman stated that Romanoff "was never offered a position within the administration." That is consistent with both Romanoff's June 2 statement that he was not "promised a job" by the White House and the administration's June 3 statement that "there was no offer of a job."

Myth: Romanoff is a "liar" for prior comments about WH discussions

CLAIM: Romanoff is a "liar" for previously saying "he never received an offer." In a June 2 post on Romanoff's statement that day as reported by the Denver Post, HotAir.com's AllahPundit wrote: "The Denver Post was strikingly silent about the job offer after their big scoop last year -- until today, when the editorial page declared that it was time for both sides to come clean. (Romanoff told them "unequivocally" that he never received any offer, so now we know he's a liar too.)"

REALITY: Romanoff has consistently said he was not offered a job, a statement supported by the White House's comments. The June 2 Denver Post editorial to which AllahPundit links states that Romanoff "told us unequivocally" in September 2009 "that he had not been offered a position" in the Obama administration. That is consistent with his June 2 statement that Messina "could not guarantee my appointment to any of" the positions they discussed and that "[a]t no time was I promised a job," as well as the White House's statement that "there was no offer of a job."

Myth: Sestak offer violated federal law

CLAIM: White House offer of a panel position to Sestak if he didn't enter Senate race was illegal. Numerous right-wing media figures have suggested that the White House's offer to Sestak of a position on a presidential panel if he did not enter the Pennsylvania Senate primary constituted a violation of the law or even an "impeachable offense."

REALITY: Legal experts have denied that a crime was committed. Numerous legal experts have assessed the Sestak case and concluded that no law was broken. For example:

  • Former Justice Department senior attorney Cooper: Allegations don't "sound to me as the sort of thing that any reasonable prosecutor would view as criminal." A May 28 Huffington Post article reported that James Cooper -- formerly a "senior Justice Department attorney and Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, where he was the Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division" -- stated of the allegations:

"I have seen the White House description of what occurred. ... Certainly, as described, it does not sound to me as the sort of thing that any reasonable prosecutor would view as criminal. It seems to me that this is the political process at work... I don't understand as a legal matter how a prosecutor could sustain a case charging either party in this matter. I don't know of any precedent off the top of my head for anybody being prosecuted in this context."

  • Former public corruption prosecutor Bunnell: "I don't see anything criminal about what happened." Huffington Post further reported:

"I looked through it," Steve Bunnell of the firm O'Melveny & Myers, said of the job-offering related document released by the White House on Friday. "I don't see anything criminal about what happened. Basically you are talking about political horse-trading, which strikes me as an inherent part of democracy. There is nothing inherently bad about it unless you think politics and democracy are bad."

Formerly the Chief of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia, Bunnell has no shortage of exposure with public corruption cases. The Sestak scandal not only passes the smell test, it doesn't really smell, he said. Bunnell isn't alone in his reading of the issue's legal underpinnings.

[...]

Bunnell, for one, noted the firing of U.S. Attorneys during the Bush years, in which officials were dismissed ostensibly for the purpose of benefiting Republican congressional candidates. Compared to that, he added, the Sestak saga "looks silly."

"It may be bad government in some context," he said, "but other then entering an election season, I don't understand what the big deal is."

  • Law professor Lowenstein: Situation is "viewed as politics as usual," not something subject to criminal prosecution. In a May 27 blog post, NBC News' Mark Murray reported: " 'As a general matter, this kind of situation is viewed as politics as usual,' added Professor Daniel Lowenstein of UCLA Law School. 'It's just not the kind of the thing that is usually dealt with in a criminal prosecution.' "
  • Justice Department Public Integrity lawyer Zeidenberg: "Horrible precedent" to treat "horsetrading" "in the criminal context." In a May 25 post, Talking Points Media's Zachary Roth quoted Peter Zeidenberg, a former federal prosecutor with the Justice Department's Public Integrity unit, saying "Talk about criminalizing the political process!... It would be horrible precedent if what really truly is political horsetrading were viewed in the criminal context of: is this a corrupt bribe?"

Myth: Sestak offer violated bribery statute

CLAIM: Sestak offer constitutes an illegal "bribe." Right-wing media have repeatedly claimed the White House attempted to "bribe" Sestak. For example, on the May 26 edition of his Fox News show, Hannity said, "news of the White House's alleged attempt to bribe Congressman Joe Sestak into dropping out of the Pennsylvania Senate race has lingered in the public for four months now and the longer it does so the more bizarre it becomes." Later on the same program, Hannity stated of the offer, "I believe this is a bribe."

REALITY: Legal experts have repudiated idea that the Sestak offer violated the federal bribery statute. For example:

  • Painter: Job offer "is hardly a 'bribe.' " In a May 24 blog post, former Bush ethics advisor Painter wrote:

The allegation that the job offer was somehow a "bribe" in return for Sestak not running in the primary is difficult to support. Sestak, if he had taken a job in the Administration, would not have been permitted to run in the Pennsylvania primary. The Hatch Act prohibits a federal employee from being a candidate for nomination or election to a partisan political office. 5 U.S.C. § 7323(a)(3). He had to choose one or the other, but he could not choose both.

The job offer may have been a way of getting Sestak out of Specter's way, but this also is nothing new. Many candidates for top Administration appointments are politically active in the President's political party. Many are candidates or are considering candidacy in primaries. White House political operatives don't like contentious fights in their own party primaries and sometimes suggest jobs in the Administration for persons who otherwise would be contenders. For the White House, this is usually a "win-win" situation, giving the Administration politically savvy appointees in the Executive Branch and fewer contentious primaries for the Legislative Branch. This may not be best for voters who have less choice as a result, and Sestak thus should be commended for saying "no". The job offer, however, is hardly a "bribe" when it is one of two alternatives that are mutually exclusive.

  • Sloan: "There's no bribery case here." Talking Points Memo's Zachary Roth reported in a May 25 post that Melanie Sloan, a former federal prosecutor and the executive director of watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, had said of the Sestak offer, "There is no bribery case here... No statute has ever been used to prosecute anybody for bribery in circumstances like this." Likewise, in a May 28 MSNBC appearance, Sloan stated that "bribery is a tough case to prove. You need an official act in exchange for a thing of value. You just don't have that case here." She added: "Mr. Sestak didn't have any kind of official act to trade. Not running for Congress, not running for Senate, can't be an official act, which is the kind of thing he would have to exchange for that thing of value."
  • Fox's Kelly: "most people don't even think" bribery statute "is even potentially relevant." Discussing conservative claims that the Sestak offer may have violated the law, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly said, "There's a separate statute for bribery, which most people don't think is even potentially relevant."

Myth: Sestak offer violated law banning "promise of employment... for political activity"

CLAIM: Sestak offer violated 18 U.S.C. § 600. Conservative media figures have repeatedly claimed the Sestak offer violated 18 U.S.C. § 600, which bans the promise of "any employment, position, compensation, contract, appointment, or other benefit, provided for or made possible in whole or in part by any Act of Congress" in exchange for "any political activity."

REALITY: Legal experts have rebutted the claim that the Sestak offer violated 18 U.S.C. § 600. For example:

  • Bush ethics lawyer Painter: "I cannot see how this statute can be reasonably applied" to this case. In a May 28 post, The Washington Post's Greg Sargent reported of his interview that day with former Bush administration chief ethics lawyer Richard Painter:

Painter also took issue with the notion that the version of events aired by the White House today could in any way be illegal. Republicans point to a Federal statute that prohibits any promises of "employment" as a "reward for any political activity."

But Painter says applying this to the Sestak situation is a big stretch. He argued that the sort of "political activity" referred to in the statute concerns political activity you might do for someone else, not actions you might take on your own behalf, such as dropping out of a race.

For instance, he said, this statute prevents things like the offer of a job to someone in exchange for their support for a particular candidate. "I cannot see how this statute can be reasonably applied to a candidate's own decision on whether to run in an election," Painter said.

"Based on the information disclosed from the White House, it's even more apparent that this is a non issue," Painter said. "No scandal. Time to move on."

  • Law professor Hasen: "I can't find a case" where statute "has ever been applied in this way." Discussing 18 U.S.C. § 600, Hasen stated:

HASEN: I went back and looked at this Section 600, the one that says about these job offers. That seems to be a statute that's really aimed at preventing patronage appointments. That is, you know, giving people who have done political favors for you jobs where they make money. I can't find a case where it's ever been applied in this way, and I think there are some good reasons why it probably shouldn't be. What we have here, really, is a political deal. It's a deal to say in order to strengthen the party, one of the two people competing should step aside. It's the kind of thing that happens all the time, and it's the kind of thing that probably is not what the statute was really designed to prevent.

  • Bush AG Mukasey: Based on White House and Sestak statements, offer "doesn't violate the statute." On the May 28 edition of Fox News' America Live, former Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasey said that it is "highly questionable there was a crime," adding that positions covered under 18 U.S.C. § 600 have to be "made possible, in whole or in part, by an act of Congress. In other words, it has to be a position that was created by an act of Congress or somehow partially created by an act of Congress. If it's not, then it doesn't violate the statute."
  • CREW's Sloan: criminal allegations based on this interpretation of law are "ludicrous." In a May 27 blog post, NBC News' Mark Murray reported:

Melanie Sloan, the executive director of watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said that criminal allegations in the Sestak case are "ludicrous." She points out that there has never been a prosecution under the 1972 law cited by the Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans. "There's no definition of 'political activity' within the law," she said. "It's really not a very well-written statute."

Myth: Sestak offer violated laws on offers or solicitations to obtain office

CLAIM: Sestak offer was a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 210 and 211. Right-wing media have repeatedly stated that the Sestak offer violated 18 U.S.C. § 210, which bans a promise of a "thing of value... in consideration of the use or promise to use any influence to procure any appointive office," and 18 U.S.C. § 211, which bans the solicitation or reception of such a "thing of value."

REALITY: Legal experts have denied the contention that the Sestak offer violated these statutes. For example:

  • Ethics attorney Stan Brand: Job offer does not constitute "something of value." May 27 Mother Jones article discussed Rep. Darrell Issa's (R-CA) allegation the Sestak offer had violated three statutes, including 18 U.S.C. § 211 a crime has been committed and quoted Stan Brand, a Washington, D.C., ethics attorney, responding that the claim was "far-fetched." Mother Jones further reported:

Those laws, Brand explains, were designed to deal with coercion, fraud, and vote-buying, not "the rough and tumble of political horse-trading." Promising someone a job, he adds, is not the same as exchanging "money or something of value." Moreover, he notes, there have never been any prosecutions of the sort Issa contemplates in this instance.

"This is a nice political ploy," Brand says. "But it has no legal substance. The president can promise Sestak the moon for a political reason. That's the system."

  • Sloan: Sestak not running for Senate "offers no monetary value." On MSNBC, Sloan stated: "Mr. Sestak didn't have any kind of official act to trade. Not running for Congress, not running for Senate, can't be an official act, which is the kind of thing he would have to exchange for that thing of value." Likewise, in an interview with CNS News, Sloan reportedly stated, "A quid pro quo has to offer something of value in exchange for something... If you agree not to run for the Senate and we'll make you secretary of the Navy -- that offers no monetary value. It's just the unseemly side of politics."

Myth: Sestak offer violated law governing political "interference" by federal employees

CLAIM: Sestak offer violated 18 U.S.C. § 595. On the May 25 edition of Fox News' Special Report, political analyst Karl Rove asserted that the in making the Sestak offer, the Obama administration may have violated "18 U.S.C. 595, which prohibits a federal official from interfering, a government employee, interfering with the nomination or election for office."

REALITY: Bush attorney general Mukasey said that analysis "really is a stretch." On the May 28 America Live, former Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasey said it "really is a stretch" to claim the offer violated 18 U.S.C. § 595, adding, "I think that it would have to be something much more direct than what we have here in order for it to violate the statute. I mean, understand that politics is practiced in a variety of ways, including by suggesting to people that there are things that they might better do with their careers than what they intend to do."

Myth: Sestak offer violated Hatch Act

CLAIM: Obama administration officials violated the Hatch Act with Sestak offer. Right-wing media have stated that Sestak offer violated the Hatch Act, which "restricts the political activity of individuals principally employed by state or local executive agencies and who work in connection with programs financed in whole or in part by federal loans or grants."

REALITY: Legal expert Hasen denied Hatch Act applies to case. Asked whether the Hatch Act is relevant to this instance, Hasen stated:

HASEN: Well, you know, I haven't heard -- if you look at letter the Republican senators from the Judiciary Committee sent to Attorney General Holder asking for an investigation, they didn't cite the Hatch Act generally, it cited the Section 600, and I think there's a good reason for that. When you have the president of a particular party, the president is really the head of that party, and the president and the administration, they really wear two hats. This is true whether you're talking about Republican or Democratic administrations. That is, they have the political side, and they have their job as executive. And so long as they take steps to make sure that the two are not mixed -- for example, using government offices or using government resources to further political goals -- that's really been an accepted part of politics for a long time.

Myth: Sestak offer was unusual

CLAIM: Sestak offer was outside the bounds of normal politics. In claiming that the Sestak job offer was illegal, conservative media figures have suggested that the offer was not one typically made in politics.

REALITY: Political and legal experts, historians, have noted that the offer was not unusual. For example:

  • AP: "Ethics attorneys in Washington said such offers are common." A February 19 Associated Press article about the Sestak offer reported: "Ethics attorneys in Washington said such offers are common. Melanie Sloan, director of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, described it as 'politics as usual.' "
  • Bush political director Kaufman: "Tell me a White House that didn't do this, back to George Washington." The New York Times reported that Ron Kaufman, who served as President George H.W. Bush's White House political director, "said it would not be surprising for a White House to use political appointments to accomplish a political goal. 'Tell me a White House that didn't do this, back to George Washington,' Mr. Kaufman said."
  • Political expert Sabato: Sestak allegations "trivial," "garden-variety politics." On the May 28 edition of Fox News' Your World, University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato called the allegations "garden-variety politics" and "absolutely trivial." He added, "Let's stop criminalizing garden-variety politics, which is what this is." Asked whether the offer gives him the "heebie-jeebies," Cavuto replied, "No," adding, "this is the way politics operates," and, "it seems to me that they're guilty of practicing politics, period, full stop."
  • Historian Russell Riley: "It is completely unexceptional." On May 27, The Huffington Post's Sam Stein reported, "As the Republican Party works itself into a lather over the Obama administration's offer of a job to Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Penn) in exchange for him not entering the Pennsylvania Senate primary, seasoned political observers, historians, and lawyers are responding with veritable yawns."
  • Historian George Edwards: "All this is old news historically." Stein further reported, "George Edwards, a Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Jordan Chair in Presidential Studies at Texas A&M University, says: 'There is no question whatsoever that presidents have often offered people positions to encourage them not to do something or make it awkward for them to do it. Presidents have also offered people back-ups if they ran for an office and lost. All this is old news historically.' "
  • Political expert Ornstein: "Such offers are nearly routine across every administration." In a May 28 blog post, American Enterprise Institute scholar Norman Ornstein commented that he was "struck -- and bemused -- by the kerfluffle over the job offer by the Obama administration to Joe Sestak," and stated:

Why am I struck and bemused? Because to any veteran of the political process, such offers are nearly routine across every administration. If what the Obama administration did was impeachable, then Rep. [Darrell] Issa [R-CA] might want to consider retroactive impeachment action against Ronald Reagan, whose White House directly suggested to S.I. Hayakawa that he would get an administration position if he would stay out of the Republican primary for Senate in California; or call for an investigation and special prosecutor of the Bush White House for discussing a Cabinet post with Democratic Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska to clear the field for their preferred Republican candidate Mike Johanns in 2006. At the same time, Issa might want to call for expulsion of his Senate colleague Judd Gregg, who insisted before he accepted the post of Commerce Secretary in the Obama administration that there be a guarantee that his successor, appointed by a Democratic governor, be a Republican.

Myth: Sestak was offered position of Secretary of the Navy

CLAIM: There may have been "another conversation" in which Sestak "was offered secretary of the navy." On the June 2 edition of Hannity -- after White House counsel Bob Bauer's May 28 statement that "At no time was Congressman Sestak offered, nor did he seek, the position of Secretary of the Navy," but was instead asked whether he "would be interested in service on a Presidential or other Senior Executive Branch Advisory Board -- Rudy Giuliani stated, "the question is, was it Bill Clinton's -- was there another conversation which he was offered secretary of the Navy? Which is what everybody believes he was offered."

REALITY: Administration had already nominated a secretary of Navy before they would have wanted Sestak out of the Senate race. As Washington Post's David Weigel noted:

On March 27, 2009, the administration nominated Ray Mabus as secretary of the Navy. It wasn't until April 28 that [Sen. Arlen] Specter became a Democrat, and by Sestak's own recollection, he was literally being courted to run the day that news broke. On May 18, the Senate confirmed Mabus. And on May 29, Sestak entered the Senate race.

It's pretty clear that if Sestak was offered a job, it wasn't secretary of the Navy.

Myth: Sestak and Romanoff discussions analogous to Blagojevich allegations

CLAIM: Romanoff, Sestak, and Blagojevich situations "eerily similar." On the May 28 edition of his Fox News program, while discussing the Sestak offer, Hannity said that "We have a governor, former governor in Illinois, who's being prosecuted for trying to get something of value for a Senate seat." He then referenced the Romanoff cases. Later in the program, he said the Sestak and Romanoff instances were "eerily similar" to the allegations against former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

REALITY: Blagojevich allegedly tried to sell a Senate appointment for money. Blagojevich is on trial on numerous allegations with a possible sentence of 20 years in prison. Blagojevich allegedly tried to sell a Senate appointment for cash or other personal benefits, specifically:

  • A substantial salary for himself at a either a non-profit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions.
  • Placing his wife on paid corporate boards where he speculated she might garner as much as $150,000 a year.
  • Promises of campaign funds -- including cash up front.
  • A cabinet post or ambassadorship for himself.

No such allegations have been levied with regard to the Sestak and Romanoff controversies.

Posted In
Government, The Presidency & White House, The Senate
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