Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) says the White House broke federal law by offering Representative Joe Sestak (D-PA) a federal job in exchange for dropping out of the United States Senate Democratic primary. Sestak himself has alleged that the offer was made by the White House.
So is there any legitimacy to Issa’s claim? Would offering a federal job in exchange for a political favor really be a violation of federal law? Yes, actually. It would be.
18 U.S.C. § 600. Promise of employment or other benefit for political activity
Whoever, directly or indirectly, promises any employment, position, compensation, contract, appointment, or other benefit, provided for or made possible in whole or in part by any Act of Congress, or any special consideration in obtaining any such benefit, to any person as consideration, favor, or reward for any political activity or for the support of or opposition to any candidate or any political party in connection with any general or special election to any political office, or in connection with any primary election or political convention or caucus held to select candidates for any political office, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
Sestak, a Democrat, alleged that he was offered by the White House a high-ranking appointment in the executive branch in exchange for dropping out of the United States Senate Democratic primary. The White House has already publicly endorsed his opponent, Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA), and so allegedly offered the job in exchange for a political favor.
That’s exactly the scenario the above section of US Code deals with. It’s illegal to offer an appointment in exchange for political activity. Those who break the law can be fined and even imprisoned. If Obama himself offered the job or had the job offered on his behalf, that would qualify under the Constitution as a “high crime or misdemeanor”. He could face impeachment charges.
Something tells me things are about to get more interesting.