Remember when Barack Obama promised the most “open and transparent” government in history? Of course, as he does with most things, he was trying to compare himself with the previous administration: “See what they did? Well… we will do better.” But, as with everything else from controlling the deficit, promoting freedom, or handling the economy, Obama has failed at his “transparency in government” pledge. In reality, it’s probably not a failure. After all, don’t you have to actually intend to do something for it to fail? Obama’s administration is being dragged further into the mud, and the only thing emerging is more questions.
As I wrote earlier, the White House is under fire for conversations arranged by the Obama administration between former President Bill Clinton and Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA). At the heart of the controversy is whether a job was offered if Sestak would drop out of the Democrat primary Senate race against Arlen Specter, and whether this activity is illegal.
For weeks and weeks, the “open and transparent” White House ignored repeated questions by reporters. Then on Friday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend, the Obama team released a memo detailing the allegations and claiming no wrong-doing had occurred. End of story? Not even close.
As reported by CNSNews.com, the memo stated that “nothing improper happened. It says that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel recruited Bill Clinton to offer Sestak an unpaid position on a presidential advisory board while remaining a U.S. congressman.” However, a sitting congressman cannot sit on a presidential advisory board while being employed by the federal government.
So… what job was he really offered? And how many conversations actually took place? The White House isn’t answering.
Three House Republicans (Lamar Smith of Texas, Darrell Issa of California, and James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin sent a letter to the White House on Wednesday which stated that the congressmen believe the memo “appears to catalog a violation of the federal criminal code.” The letter reads in part:
“Even if we suspend our disbelief that the White House asked a former U.S. president to call on a member of Congress to offer a mere unpaid advisory position in exchange for dropping out of a Senate race, the facts alleged in the Sestak memorandum still appear to violate several sections of the United States Code.”
But, the story doesn’t end with Sestak. In fact, it appears to be just the beginning. The Associated Press is reporting that “one of President Barack Obama’s top advisers suggested to a Colorado Democrat that he forgo a primary challenge to Sen. Michael Bennet and instead apply for one of three international development jobs.”
The back-room deals — former President Bill Clinton led the Pennsylvania effort and White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina worked with former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff — called into question Obama’s repeated promises to run an open government.
Romanoff said in a statement Wednesday night that he was contacted by Messina last fall and told that the White House would support Bennet in the primary. When he said he would seek the nomination anyway, Messina “suggested three positions that might be available to me were I not pursuing the Senate race,” Romanoff said. “He added that he could not guarantee my appointment to any of these positions.”
This is not Romanoff’s first run-in with controversy. Earlier in the year, he removed a photo from his web site that was doctored to show more minorities standing next to him.
Does anyone see a pattern here? Transparency in government sure gets cloudy in the hands of the Obama administration.