Santorum: Special Prosecutor Should Investigate Sestak Bribery Allegation

Thursday, 27 May 2010 01:47 PM

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Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum tells Newsmax that a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate whether the Obama administration offered Rep. Joe Sestak a job if he dropped out of the Pennsylvania Democratic primary race he eventually won against Sen. Arlen Specter.

In an exclusive Newsmax.TV interview, Santorum said the allegation, if true, amounts to bribery and possibly an impeachable offense. He also compared the situation with the federal charges disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich in Illinois is facing.

“I think it’s very serious,” Santorum said. “The president of the United States cannot and should not be out there trying to bribe people to not run for political office.

“To put it in the inverse, you have a governor of Illinois who’s potentially going to go to jail by trying to sell an office,” Santorum said, referring to Blagojevich. “And here you’re trying in a sense to sell people on not running for an office by giving them another office. So I think that’s a big problem.”

Story continues below.



Santorum, who served two terms in the Senate before losing a re-election bid in 2006, is a commentator for Fox News. A stalwart conservative, he is being touted as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2012 and is traveling across the country to measure support for such a run.

In a wide-ranging interview, Santorum also said:
  • Attorney General Eric Holder is unlikely to launch an investigation into the Sestak affair because of “his track record of not prosecuting Democrats or liberals.”
  • The Obama administration’s national defense policy is a dangerous mishmash of political correctness that doesn’t see Islamic fundamentalism as a security threat but is worried about global warming.
  • Democratic attacks on the Arizona immigration law are not only incorrect but have become reprehensible, with standing ovations given to Mexico’s president in the Congress as he attacks America.
  • He was surprised by the collapse of Specter in Democratic primary, but believes the field is now wide open for GOP candidate Pat Toomey, who has money and popularity with grassroots conservatives in Pennsylvania.
  • Strong candidates who have emerged in Washington state, California and Connecticut have given the GOP a good chance of winning back the Senate as well as the House.

Santorum said he is deeply troubled by a pattern of political maneuvering that has characterized the Obama White House. A president who had campaigned on building bipartisanship has instead become one of the most divisive presidents in recent memory.

As a result, Santorum said he doesn’t expect that Holder will delve deeply into the Sestak affair. It was Sestak himself who originally alleged that the White House approached him, telling Fox News' Bret Baier in March that he was offered a position in the administration to leave the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary.

Now that he has won the primary, however, Sestak has stopped talking about the allegation and refused as recently as this week to answer reporters' questions about the incident. Seven senior Republican senators Wednesday told Attorney General Eric Holder they want a special prosecutor to investigate the allegations.

"I have nothing else to say on the matter," Sestak said in the Capitol Tuesday.

The White House has been similarly tight-lipped. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs fended off a dozen questions about Sestak's allegation during a press briefing last week. On Sunday, Gibbs told CBS' Bob Schieffer, "I'm not a lawyer. But lawyers in the White House and others have looked into conversations that were had with Congressman Sestak, and nothing inappropriate happened."

Santorum said that may be true, but the charges are so troubling they should be investigated.

“I’m not particularly confident in this attorney general given his track record of not prosecuting Democrats or liberals that he’ll do anything but I would hope that they would look at this and seriously analyze whether a law was broken,” Santorum said.

“If what he [Obama] did, actually offering a bribe to an elected official for that political purpose, then certainly committing a crime like that is an impeachable offense,” Santorum said.

Adding to Santorum’s skepticism is the fact that Sestak now has the momentum in the Pennsylvania senate race because of his surprise victory over Specter.

“It surprised me he got knocked off as easily as he did,” Santorum said of Specter. “And when I say that, Joe Sestak ran one of the weakest campaigns I’ve ever seen run in Pennsylvania. He didn’t have much of an organization. He didn’t do a particularly good job raising money. He went out and said some controversial things . . . such as the president potentially tried to bribe him to get him out of the race. I mean, he’s a bit of an erratic kind of guy and he basically knocked Arlen Specter out of the race with one television commercial.”

The lesson of the election was to stay true to your beliefs – a principle Specter violated, Santorum said.

“So I think what it shows is if you’re a 30-year incumbent and you switch parties and give up every belief you had and go to the other side then you’re rather cynical about why you’re running and people in this election are not going to be supporting you and that’s what happened,” Santorum said.

The key for Republicans in the upcoming midterm elections will be to lay out a clear vision in economic and national security policy that distinguishes them from the Democrats. One important area will be homeland defense, he said. Another will be the growing immigration issue triggered by the passage of Arizona’s tough but popular new law.

In terms of defense, Santorum said, Obama still doesn’t realize what the threat to the homeland really is.

Santorum pointed to the Quadrennial Defense Review, a blueprint for homeland defense that is updated every four years. The latest version doesn’t even mention the threat of Islamic-based terrorism.

“Not once was the word Islam or Muslim mentioned in that document,” Santorum said. “Yet they spent eight pages talking about the strategic threat to our country of global warming. So we have a politically correct atmosphere not just in the attorney general’s office, but in the defense department and in the White House and it’s coming from the top down.

“This is someone (Holder) who obviously who does not consider the threat that we’re engaged with – the people who tried to blow themselves up over Detroit, the people who did successfully kill people at Fort Hood, the situation in Times Square and others – to be a legitimate threat. But this is consistent with the entire administration,” Santorum added.

Santorum, trained as an attorney, also slammed the administration’s attacks on the Arizona immigration law. He called the attempts to characterize it as racist a blatant political move to win over Hispanic support in the elections.

In fact, the law has more protections against racial profiling than federal law – a fact that administration officials like Holder, who admitted he hadn’t read the law – have sidestepped.

“It’s a power play on the part of President Obama,” Santorum said. “This is a man who was supposed to be a conciliator, no red state/blue state, we’re going to bring people together – he has done anything like that.

“He has divided this country. He divides people by race. He divides people by gender. He divides them by every means you can possibly give to give special classes to folks and pit one group against the other for political advantage.”

Santorum was particularly insulted that the administration sided with Mexican President Felipe Calderon as he attacked the law during a joint session of Congress.

Calderon “stood before a joint session of Congress and insulted the people of Arizona and got a standing ovation from Democrats, which was reprehensible to see your country condemned and applauding that condemnation.”

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