Issues ››› Elections
  • Requirement that a candidate drop out of race to take a federal job is imposed by law, not Obama

    Blog ››› ››› ADAM SHAH

    Now that right-wing media are running with the false allegation that the White House committed a crime by discussing job possibilities with Colorado U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff, it's time to highlight one very important point. The White House did not condition the possibility that Romanoff drop out of the race if he were to take an administration job. That condition is actually imposed by federal law.

    As Richard Painter -- who served as chief ethics lawyer for the president during the Bush administration -- has said about the Romanoff story: "Once again the story is that the job offers were 'conditioned' upon a candidate dropping out of the Senate race. As I have pointed out in the Sestak matter, this 'condition' is already imposed by the Hatch Act on full time Executive Branch employees."

    From Painter's June 3 post on the Legal Ethics Forum blog:

    Once again the story is that the job offers were "conditioned" upon a candidate dropping out of the Senate race. As I have pointed out in the Sestak matter, this "condition" is already imposed by the Hatch Act on full time Executive Branch employees. A person who accepts such an Administration job cannot run for office in a partisan election, whether the White House wants him to or not. The White House can offer a part time advisory board position instead, in which case the Hatch Act provisions might not apply and the person could also run for office, but such an advisory board position is hardly an inducement to give up a decent chance of becoming a Senator.


    The strategy is clear. White House political advisors see two qualified Democrats going at each other in a Senate primary, one an incumbent and the other not. The second candidate is approached about the possibility of a job in the Administration, or if he has already approached the Administration about a job his application is taken seriously. If a full time Administration job is accepted the candidate who accepts it will have to drop out of the race because of the Hatch Act. The White House will get what the Democratic party leadership wants by operation of law.

    I don't like this, and voters in the effected states certainly shouldn't like it. Once a candidate has declared an intention to run for federal office, the White House should back off and let the voters decide. Then the White House can give the loser a job if it is warranted. There are plenty of other people to fill Administration posts in the meantime.

    Not liking it and saying it is illegal are two different things. Once again, for reasons already mentioned I don't see illegality unless of course someone lies about it. If Congress wants to make this practice illegal, perhaps Congress should enact a law saying that no person who has filed papers to run in a federal election may be contacted by anyone in the Executive Branch about possible employment until the election is over.

  • Military disparity: CNN ran 11 segments on Blumenthal's service claims, none about Kirk's

    ››› ››› TERRY KREPEL

    The day after a report that Democratic Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal had made false claims about his military service, CNN devoted 11 segments to the story. By contrast, CNN ran no segments on Republican Senate candidate Mark Kirk's admission that he had made a false claim about his military service in the two days after that story broke.

  • Asman's veterans-turned-congressional candidates are all Republicans -- but he won't tell you that

    Blog ››› ››› TERRY KREPEL

    As part of an episode-long salute to veterans, David Asman kicked off the May 28 edition of Fox Business' America's Nightly Scoreboard by hosting four veterans who are running for Congress -- Allen West, Brian Rooney, Katherine Jenrette, and Adam Kinzinger. Asman portrayed them as a "refreshing voice that is rising up" and "veterans who want to kick out the incumbents and take their place in D.C.," adding that they are among "nearly two dozen vets" who are "looking to take back Congress and making a real difference."

    Unless you were paying close attention to the on-screen text identifying each candidate, you wouldn't know that there is one other trait Asman's four guests share: they're all Republicans.

    Indeed, Asman seemed rather proud of not highlighting that. At the end of the segment, he said: "By the way, we never once mentioned which party you're running with, and I think we should leave it that way."

    While Asman may have wanted to keep partisan politics out of his honoring of the veterans, it's also just as likely that he wanted to obscure the fact that he was engaging in his own display of partisan politics with this single-party representation.

    But then, when you're part of the research and communications arm of the Republican Party, that's pretty much to be expected.

  • More on ridiculous Morris and Napolitano call for PA grand jury investigation of Sestak offer

    Blog ››› ››› ADAM SHAH

    As my colleague Matt Gertz has noted, Fox News' Dick Morris and Andrew Napolitano have called on Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett to "convene a grand jury to get to the bottom of the scandal" involving the Obama administration's offer of a position to Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA). The Obama administration has said that the offer consisted of asking Sestak if he'd be interested in an unpaid position on the Senior Executive Branch Advisory Board while retaining his seat in the House, not an offer of a paid position. Furthermore, a long, long list of legal experts have said this is much ado about nothing.

    As Matt also noted, the Pennsylvania Attorney General, Tom Corbett, is the Republican Party nominee for Governor of Pennsylvania. So basically, Morris and Napolitano want him to investigate the opponent of someone who's on the GOP ticket with him.

    But there is one more aspect of Morris' and Napolitano's call for a state-level investigation of the matter that requires discussion. Morris' and Napolitano's call would seem to violate basic precepts of federalism. After all, Morris and Napolitano are arguing for a state prosecutor to investigate discussions on behalf of the federal executive branch with a member of the federal legislative branch regarding an offer of a federal position that would avoid a primary for a federal Senate seat.

    The Supreme Court has recognized the doctrine "Supremacy Clause immunity" in certain cases starting with the 1890 case of In re Neagle. The doctrine bars state prosecutors from pursuing prosecutions against a federal official discharging his or her federal duties. While the doctrine is not absolute and is relatively ill-defined, the doctrine would seem to be implicated in this case, which so completely involves federal matters. Yet Morris and Napolitano -- a former judge -- do not even mention Supremacy Clause Immunity in their column.