Menu

Politics

BLOG

Former President Clinton to Campaign for Sestak Despite Controversy

Just one year ago the Obama White House didn't even want Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., to make a run for the Senate in November and enlisted the help of former President Bill Clinton to keep him out. Fast forward a year and Clinton is now going to Scranton, Pennsylvania to speak at a rally Tuesday afternoon in support of the former Navy admiral.

"He (Sestak) is honored that President Clinton, who created 22 million jobs during his administration, would offer to come into Pennsylvania for his campaign," said Sestak Spokesman Jonathon Dworkin.

This will mark the first joint public appearance since White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel confirmed they had employed Clinton as an emissary during the primary season to speak to Sestak, and is sure to reignite the controversy.

Two months ago it was revealed that the White House was offering an unpaid position on a presidential advisory board to entice the congressman to avoid a primary confrontation with Senator Arlen Specter, D-Pa, who bolted the GOP and switched parties last year.

Although there has been no court action, some analysts argue that such offers could be a violation of federal law -- a provision in the U.S. Criminal Code, which covers "bribery, graft, and conflicts of interest."

White House counselor Robert Bauer said in a memo that the administration didn't do anything improper when offering Sestak the job.

"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.

Rep. Pat Toomey is Sestak's GOP opponent and is averaging a slight lead over Sestak in recent polls.

"One of the choices in this Senate election is between someone who was part of the Clinton team like Admiral Sestak or someone who was part of the subsequent George Bush team like Congressman Toomey," said Dworkin.

Due to President Obama's poll numbers continuing to drop, Clinton has been used on the road in many high profile races, like the special election for Mark Critz in Pennsylvania's 12th District and several times in Arkansas for Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln, in her race against Rep. John Boozeman, R-Ar.

Sestak told reporters in July that if the White House gave him a wish list of supporters to speak for him, he'd pick the first lady over the president. "My number one choice ... is Michelle Obama," he said.

Clinton was already scheduled in the commonwealth for fundraisers for gubernatorial nominee Dan Onorato and House candidate John Callahan. Sestak will not return to Washington with his fellow congressmen when the House reconvenes, so he can attend the rally with the former president.

Be sure to check all of Fox News' election coverage at the Days to Decide page.

FOX NEWS FIRST NEWSLETTER

Daily must-read stories from the biggest name in politics

Subscribe Get the full text emailed to you daily