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Judicial Watch, Inc. is a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.

Judicial Watch, Inc. is a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.

Because no one
is above the law!


Tom Fitton's Judicial Watch Weekly Update

Sestak Scandal Heats Up

May 28, 2010

From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:

Obama Administration, Sestak Need to Come Clean on Corrupt Job Offer

This has gone on long enough. Three months ago, Pennsylvania Rep. (and current U.S. Senate candidate) Joe Sestak dropped the bombshell that the Obama White House tried to bribe him to abandon his Democratic primary challenge to Senator Arlen Specter by offering him a high-level position in the White House.

This is an extremely serious charge. Those involved could be guilty of violating federal laws. At least four of them by my count:

  • 18 USC 210: Offer to procure appointive public office: Whoever pays or offers or promises any money or thing of value, to any person, firm, or corporation in consideration of the use or promise to use any influence to procure any appointive office or place under the United States for any person, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
  • 18 USC 211: Acceptance of solicitation to obtain appointive public office, which reads in part: Whoever solicits or receives, either as a political contribution, or for personal emolument, any money or thing of value, in consideration of the promise of support or use of influence in obtaining for any person any appointive office or place under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
  • 18 USC 595: Interference by administrative employees by Federal, State or Territorial Governments, which reads in part: Whoever, being a person employed in any administrative position by the United States…in connection with any activity which is financed in whole or in part by loans or grants made by the United States, or any department or agency thereof, uses his official authority for the purpose of interfering with, or affecting, the nomination or the election of any candidate for the office of President, Vice President, Presidential elector, Member of the Senate, Member of the House of Representatives…shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
  • 18 USC 600: Promise of employment or other benefit for political activity, which reads in part: 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…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…shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

As you can see, the laws are clear and this Sestak scandal is no trifling matter. And yet we’ve heard nothing from the Obama White House so far but vague denials and outright stonewalling. Joe Sestak (who defeated Specter this past Tuesday by almost eight points) now refuses to tell the full story.

It’s time for everyone involved in this scandal to come clean.

In case you need a refresher, here’s how all of this went down according to The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Rep. Joe Sestak (D., Pa.) said…that the White House offered him a federal job in an effort to dissuade him from challenging Sen. Arlen Specter in the state’s Democratic primary.

The disclosure came during an afternoon taping of Larry Kane: Voice of Reason, a Sunday news-analysis show on the Comcast Network. Sestak would not elaborate on the circumstances and seemed chagrined after blurting out “yes” to veteran news anchor Kane’s direct question.

“Was it secretary of the Navy?” Kane asked.

“No comment,” Sestak said.

“Was it [the job] high-ranking?” Kane asked. Sestak said yes, but added that he would “never leave” the Senate race for a deal.

There is simply no wiggle room for Sestak. Either he lied or someone at the White House committed a felony. It’s that simple.

(For sure, Sestak may face some criminal exposure here, too — especially on any cover-up.)

According to Red State, Rep. Darrell Issa, ranking Republican Member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, says if Sestak doesn’t come clean he might file an official complaint on July 4th.

I say why wait? It is clear the parties involved will provide no answers unless forced.

We still don’t have any answers regarding a September 2009 article in the Denver Post detailing a similar Obama White House job offer for Colorado Democratic Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff, who is now the front-runner in his race for the Senate.

And then there’s this unresolved nugget first reported in a book by Jonathan Alter: President Obama allegedly tried to push disgruntled White House Counsel Greg Craig out of the White House by dangling an appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. I’m quite certain the Founding Fathers didn’t view judicial appointments as consolation prizes for angry White House employees.

Needless to say this is a very disturbing pattern in the Obama White House. The Chicago Machine has truly come to Washington.

Attorney General Eric Holder’s refusal to appoint a special counsel in the matter is a disgrace and will not stand.

Truth fears no inquiry. If the Obama White House has nothing to hide, then it will ask for and fully cooperate with thorough Justice Department and congressional investigations of this scandal.

Obama Administration May Not Process Illegals Referred by Arizona

Just in case you had any doubts about the Obama administration’s hostility toward enforcing illegal immigration law and the rule of law generally — there is this story courtesy of Fox News:

A top Department of Homeland Security official reportedly said his agency will not necessarily process illegal immigrants referred to them by Arizona authorities.

John Morton, assistant secretary of homeland security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, made the comment during a meeting on Wednesday with the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune, the newspaper reports.

“I don’t think the Arizona law, or laws like it, are the solution,” Morton told the newspaper.

These comments by a top border official show that the Obama adminstiration is operating under, to quote Al Gore, “no controlling legal authority.” Morton should be fired, but he perfectly represents the Obama administration’s contemptuous attitude toward the rule of law on immigration matters.

In fact, the best “solution” to reduce illegal immigration is to enforce the law. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer gets it. The Arizona state legislature gets it. Local law enforcement officers get it. Border Patrol agents get it. The American people get it. (The vast majority of Americans support more illegal immigration law enforcement.) And even illegal aliens get it — as evidenced by the fact that they reportedly now are leaving Arizona in droves.

But this Obama administration has a radical agenda, rooted in its hostility to law enforcement.

Fox News also has the scoop on a campaign within the Justice Department to challenge the Arizona law on Constitutional grounds:

A team of Justice Department attorneys reviewing the new immigration law in Arizona has recommended that the U.S. government challenge the state law in federal court, but the recommendation faces an uncertain future and tough scrutiny from others in the Justice Department, sources with knowledge of the process tell Fox News.

Staff attorneys within the Justice Department recently sent higher-ups the recommendation. At the same time, the Justice Department’s Civil Division, which oversees the majority of immigration enforcement issues for the department, has drafted a “civil complaint” that would be filed in federal court in Arizona, sources said.

So rather than secure our borders and enforce the law, the Obama administration plans to use the full weight of the federal government to attack states that choose to enforce federal immigration law.

Judicial Watch is on the front lines with citizens and in the courts to support the rule of law on immigration matters. In Arizona, we will do what we can to defend and enforce the new illegal immigration law from attacks from the Obama administration.

JW Sues DOJ for Documents Regarding Decision to Dismiss Lawsuit against New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense

While the Obama administration prepares to counter theoretical civil rights violations that it mendaciously claims will result from Arizona’s new illegal immigration law, Obama’s Justice Department recently dismissed its own lawsuit regarding an actual civil rights violation by Obama supporters that occurred during the 2008 presidential campaign. We’ve launched a comprehensive investigation to get to the truth in the matter.

This week we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Obama Justice Department to obtain documents related to the agency’s decision to dismiss the claims against several members of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense accused of engaging in voter intimidation during the 2008 presidential campaign (U.S. v. New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense).

We filed our original FOIA request on May 29, 2009. The Justice Department acknowledged receiving the request on June 18, 2009, but then referred the request to the Office of Information Policy (OIP) and the Civil Rights Division. On January 15, 2010, the OIP notified Judicial Watch that it would be responding to the request on behalf of the Offices of the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, Associate Attorney General, Public Affairs, Legislative Affairs, Legal Policy, and Intergovernmental and Public Liaison.

And what have we gotten so far?

The Associate Attorney General says it found 135 pages of records responsive to our request but will not turn them over. The Civil Rights Division indicated that after an extensive search it had located “numerous responsive records” but determined that “access to the majority of the records” should be denied. (We’ve filed administrative appeals in both cases.) The Office of Public Affairs, the Office of Legal Policy, the Office of Legislative Affairs and the Office of Intergovernmental and Public Liaison say they found nothing. And we’ve received no response from the Offices of the Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General. (You can see that Judicial Watch is forced to jump through many hoops just to be told “no” by the Obama administration. It is tough work, but we do it because we know few others will hold this administration (and government in general) accountable.)

So essentially we’ve gotten absolutely nothing of value out of the Obama administration about this inexplicable decision.

Judicial Watch is not the only entity concerned with the Justice Department’s whitewashing of this scandal. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, an independent, bipartisan unit of the federal government charged with investigating and reporting on civil rights issues, has also initiated a probe of the Justice Department’s decision to dismiss its lawsuit. The Commission is getting stiff-armed, too.

Does anyone else find it incredibly ironic that the nation’s first black President and first black Attorney General are fighting the Commission on Civil Rights over confirmed voting rights violations?

By way of review, the Justice Department originally filed its lawsuit against the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and several of its members following an incident that took place outside of a Philadelphia polling station on November 4, 2008. A video of the incident showing a member of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense brandishing a police-style baton weapon went viral on the Internet. According to multiple witnesses, members of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense attempted to block access to polling stations, harassed voters and hurled racial epithets. Nonetheless, the Justice Department ultimately allegedly overruled the recommendations of its own staff and dismissed the majority of its claims.

Clearly the Obama administration owes the American people an explanation. How can the Justice Department dismiss a clear-cut case of voter intimidation involving the use of a weapon? Are voting rights important at the Justice Department? If there is nothing to hide, then Eric Holder should release this information as the law requires. This is just one more example of how Obama’s promise of transparency is a big lie.

Let’s Not Forget the Real Meaning of Memorial Day

For some, the Memorial Day weekend has become nothing more than the beginning of summer.

But Memorial Day is the day we honor those who have fallen in defense of our great nation. We at Judicial Watch are grateful for their sacrifice and pray for those our heroes have left behind.

Until next week…

Tom Fitton

Judicial Watch is a non-partisan, educational foundation organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code. Judicial Watch is dedicated to fighting government and judicial corruption and promoting a return to ethics and morality in our nation’s public life. To make a tax-deductible contribution in support of our efforts, click here.

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