Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has requested that an independent prosecutor look into whether White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and his deputy Jim Messina violated Federal laws by interfering with two recent congressional primaries.
Emanuel allegedly asked former President Bill Clinton to persuade Representative Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) to drop out of Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senate primary by offering him an unpaid advisory position with the White House. The move was an apparent attempt to save the seat for incumbent Senator Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), who eventually lost the election to Sestak after the latter declined the offer.
Messina allegedly inquired in September 2009, whether Colorado Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff would be more interested in a Federal position than in running against incumbent Senator Michael Bennett in the state’s Democratic primary. Romanoff also won the election after turning down the alleged White House offer.
“Averting divisive primary campaigns and protecting a Democratic seat in the United States House of Representatives are purely political concerns and, as such, Federal officials are prohibited from using their official authority or influence to address them,” wrote Issa in his letter to the acting U.S. Special Counsel William Reukauf.
He noted that both instances are direct violations of the Hatch Act, which states that Federal officials cannot use their “authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.”
Federal employees who violate the Hatch Act can be removed from their positions.