At the request of the White House, former President Bill Clinton attempted to dissuade Representative Joe Sestak (D-PA) from challenging Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary by offering him an unpaid advisory position, according to an internal report released May 28.
Through the publicly-released memorandum, White House Counsel Robert Bauer admits that Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel asked Clinton last summer to convince Sestak to drop out of the senatorial race and to not give up his seat in the House. In return, Sestak would be offered a seat on the Senior Executive Branch Advisory Board.
Bauer insisted that the position would be unpaid, and that the administration did nothing illegal or improper in its negotiations with Sestak.
"The Democratic Party leadership had a legitimate interest in averting a divisive primary fight and a similarly legitimate concern about the Congressman vacating his seat in the House," Bauer wrote.
"There have been numerous, reported instances in the past when prior administrations…discussed alternative paths to service…. Such discussions are fully consistent with the relevant law and ethical requirements," he added.
Bauer also discredited media reports that said Sestak had been offered the position of secretary of the Navy.
Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who pushed last week for an investigation into the incident, referred to the job offer as a "felony" that is "punishable by [time in] prison."