I made reference to this in another thread and I had been meaning to open a thread on it for a while - I get the feeling not many people heard about it because it didn't get much traction in the media. It was a local story, though, so I heard it before it even went national: http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/05/28/sestak.obama.senate/index.html An explanation of the back-story for those unfamiliar with the situation: Democrat Joe Sestak challenged and beat party-switching former Republican Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania in his primary election this spring. Specter is a high ranking Senator who has been in government for almost 50 years, having cut his chops during the Kennedy assassination investigation. He was a powerful ally for Obama and Obama did what he could to protect him from a difficult challenge, hoping that the moderate to slightly democratic Pennsylvania would re-elect him in the fall if he could just get past the primary. Now there are actually three stories here: First, is this action inethical and/or criminal? Inethical is easy: it is. Criminal is a little tougher. Obviously, the crime, if it fits the criteria, is bribery. Here's an op-ed discussing the issue: http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2010/0528/Sestak-Clinton-and-Obama-Was-it-a-bribe So the basic criteria for bribery are straightforward and clearly apply. It's the "official act" part that is more difficult and where the author of the op-ed doesn't see a clear enough connection to apply it. In essence, he argues that the quid pro quo must be for clear "official act" such as buying a vote. In this case, the "act" was dropping out of a Senate race and there was nothing else Sestak was to do for Obama. In my opinion, the spirit of such a law should be focused on the person who commits the crime, not the person being bribed (a separate law should exist for them) and Obama here intended a quid pro quo for personal gain. To me, that is the spirit of bribery. I honestly don't know if the statute was meant to be that way or not, though. However, for the President, the statute means whatever the House of Representatives wants it to mean, so since we have a Democratic house, he won't be impeached. If we had a Republican house, perhaps he would be. The second story here is what this means for Obama as a force of "change" in Washington. Clearly, it means he is exactly the type of unscrupulous Washington insider/player that he told us he wasn't. Not that I ever believed him anyway, but a lot of people did. Be sure this will come up in October of 2012. The third story here is that the story isn't over. Sestak is currently not talking about the issue anymore. He's stuck. The issue first broke in February, before the primary, but then as today, Sestak would damage his election chances by attacking Obama. Sestak can use it as evidence he is an ethical person, but I don't know it helps him much: it was a softball offer. The potential damage to his November prospects by losing support from Obama could be huge. But what happens on November 3rd? Obama needs to pull out all the stops for Sestak. Yes, Sestak is a Democrat, which is one good reason to pull for him, but also, what if Sestak loses? If Sestak loses and decides to become a private citizen again, he may just write a book and start talking again. Obama surely would not want that.