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Sestak avoids questions on WH job offer

From msnbc.com's Carrie Dann
Rep. Joe Sestak's victory in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary over incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter may have won him the "giant killer" moniker, but it also pulled a bubbling controversy onto the national stage.

As First Read wrote on Friday, national Republicans have used his come-from-behind victory to intensify the spotlight on Sestak's claim -- first made in February -- that he was offered a job by a White House official in exchange for dropping his challenge to Specter, the administration's favored candidate in the race.

On Sunday's "Meet the Press," Sestak confirmed that such a conversation took place but refused to say who made the offer and what kind of job was discussed.

Here's the key exchange between Sestak and NBC's David Gregory:
MR. GREGORY: Yes or no, straightforward question. Were you, were you offered a job, and what was the job?
REP. SESTAK: I was offered a job, and I answered that.
MR. GREGORY: You said no, you wouldn't take the job. Was it the secretary of the Navy?
REP. SESTAK: Right. And I also said, "Look, I'm getting into this...
MR. GREGORY: Was it the secretary of the Navy job?
REP. SESTAK: Anything that go  -- goes beyond that is others -- for others to talk about.

A direct offer of employment could be illegal under U.S. Code. Republicans point to three statutes that make it a misdemeanor to solicit or receive employment in exchange for political activity or to use one's official government authority to interfere in an election.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Sunday that there was "nothing inappropriate" about any conversations the Pennsylvania lawmaker had with any administration staffers.

"I'm not a lawyer," he said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "But lawyers in the White House and others have looked into conversations that were had with Congressman Sestak. And nothing inappropriate happened."

The issue has been brewing since early March, when House Oversight and Government Reform ranking member Darrell Issa (R) first sent a letter to the White House counsel asking for additional information about Sestak's claim.

"While the White House may think this is politics as usual, what is spectacularly unusual is when a candidate – a U.S. Congressman no less – freely acknowledges such a proposal," Issa wrote. "Almost always candidates keep quiet about such deals, and for good reason – they are against the law."