Saturday, November 29, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

"Political bribery" case ends with no prosecution

"Political bribery" case ends with no prosecution

I'm talking about the case of former Rep. Nick Smith...who did you think I was talking about?

The rebuke, issued Thursday night, stems from last year's vote on the Medicare prescription drug bill. The committee found that as the bill appeared headed to defeat, Mr. DeLay offered to endorse the son of a Michigan congressman, Representative Nick Smith, in a Congressional primary in return for Mr. Smith's vote in favor of the measure. Mr. Smith, a Republican who considered the bill too expensive, refused; he was admonished for what the panel said was exaggerating the pressure and inducements made to him.

The bill passed; Mr. Smith's son lost the primary.

The thing is, the Nick Smith case was much, much worse than whatever transpired between the Obama administration and Rep. Joe Sestak. He was told by the House leadership that if he didn't vote for a major bill that he wasn't inclined to vote for, there would be explicit financial consequences -- i.e., the termination of Republican campaign dollars for his son. No one was charged, no one went to jail, no one lost their job. People were surprised, actually, that then=House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was "rebuked."

That how these type of scandals go down -- there are political consequences, but prosecuting them criminally is not feasible or arguably a good idea. In the Nick Smith case, this is one of the many, many reasons that DeLay is no longer in office, in the Sestak-Obama matter, the guy that Obama was pushing, Sen. Arlen Specter, lost an election. And I actually agree that Sestak and the Obama White House should come clean on everything that happened or didn't happen. Just don't expect criminal charges or -- for God sakes, Dick Morris & Co. -- "the impeachment of Barack Obama."

It is troubling, however, and I completely agree with this article as to why:

And yet, even the president's defenders are making a compelling case that more transparency is needed. For starters, as one top strategist notes, the storyline is "suffocating" the Sestak campaign at a time when it should be reaping the benefits of its primary victory and talking (exclusively) about jobs. Mainly, however, the problem is one of perception. A back-room job offer may be, in the end, business as usual. But that doesn't provide solace or defense for a president who promised to change the way that Washington works.

"Tell me a White House that didn't do this, back to George Washington," longtime GOP strategist Ron Kaufman told the New York Times. "But here's the difference -- the times have changed and the ethics have changed and the scrutiny has changed. This is the kind of thing people across America are mad about."

I was just about to hit the "send" button when Obama was asked about this at his rare news conference. He says an "official" response is coming, whatever that means.

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Will Bunch
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