Darrell Issa has brought more national political shame to San Diego than even “Enron by the Sea.”
By Andy Cohen
San Diego’s had a pretty rough couple of weeks. But really, the region’s politically related misery extends well beyond the recent mayoral morass. If we’re being honest with ourselves, our troubles began well before Bob Filner took the oath of office at City Hall.
For the last three-plus years Darrell Issa has brought continuous ill repute to the entire San Diego region. His crusade to bring down the Obama White House with unfounded charges of corruption would make Joe McCarthy and his disciples Ted Cruz, Michele Bachmann, Steve King, and Rand Paul proud. Except that Ted Cruz is actually thrilled with the Joe McCarthy comparisons. These are the kinds of sick people that pass for Republican “leaders” these days.
Issa is the Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, a position of great power that comes with investigative and subpoena authority. It is an authority that is supposed to be used to improve government, investigate corruption, and examine potentially dangerous policies. There is a legitimate and important role for this committee to play in our national governance.
But it’s role under Issa’s “leadership,” however, has been one of purely partisan politics in the Republican quest to return to power. His stated goal since rising to the throne was to “stage a hearing a week” in order to prove that the Obama White House was “the most corrupt in history.” Start with a narrative, and work feverishly to dig up or manufacture evidence to prove it.
First there was Solyndra, in which Issa promised the public that he would find corruption linked to the White House. There was none, and Issa’s “investigation” fell flat. Turns out Issa did exactly the same thing that he had accused Obama of doing.
Then there was “Fast and Furious,” an “investigation” that led to Issa holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress–the first time in history for a sitting Attorney General. The “investigation” proved that neither Holder nor Obama knew anything about “Fast and Furious,” an ATF undertaking, prior to the inquisition, and that the operation was a “seriously flawed and irresponsibly supervised by federal officials in Arizona” that had begun during the Bush administration. The fact that Congress has refused to confirm Obama’s nomination to head the ATF, and that the department has been without a captain for more than seven years could have something to do with that.
Issa was practically overjoyed when Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in Benghazi, Libya. There’s corruption, a massive cover-up that reaches into Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s office and beyond, he giddily predicted. Issa’s Benghazi “investigations” were supposed to take down the entire Obama Administration.
The latest witch hunt comes at the expense of the IRS, where Issa once again promised us that the IRS’ scrutiny of tax-exempt applications by conservative organizations would prove definitively that the White House was specifically targeting it’s Nixon style “enemies list,” and that IRS officials in Cincinnati were operating under direct orders from Washington to more carefully scrutinize any organization that had “Tea Party” or “Patriot” in its name. Never mind that all such groups eventually had their tax-exempt status ultimately approved, and that the only groups that were denied said status were progressive ones.
Issa’s “investigations” have been nothing more than an embarrassment and a complete waste of taxpayer money, something that Republicans supposedly abhor.
There are a couple of very revealing pieces done by MSNBC last week that anyone who has any doubts about Issa’s motivations or competence needs to see. This is a man with exactly zero interest in actually governing.
MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell points out how Darrell Issa is attempting to “rewrite Darrell Issa:”
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Darrell Issa from May 14: “This was a targeting of the president’s political enemies (by the IRS), effectively, and lies about it during an election year so that it wasn’t discovered until afterwards.” Issa later called White House spokesman Jay Carney a “paid liar.”
Darrell Issa, during an Oversight Committee hearing last week: “I hope that both my side of the aisle and the ranking member’s side of the aisle will be very careful and cautious in what we say…….It is important that we understand that words matter. Nuances matter. And that we not go one step beyond what we know.”
But in a USA Today op-ed penned by Issa and published the day before the hearings, he asks, “Was the targeting of Tea Party applicants directed from the White House or somewhere else outside the IRS?” Nuances matter, and his nuance is pointing straight at Obama.
What we know is that this “investigation” into the IRS has not uncovered a single shred of evidence that Tea Party/conservative groups were specifically, maliciously targeted for political reasons.
Turns out that the IRS was simply doing its job and apparently following the law as it’s written (or not, since the applications were approved) according to the testimony in last Thursday’s hearing.
Darrell Issa: “We will work with what we know, and we will work to find out what we do not know. And I for one, and I hope everyone on both sides of the dais, will reject categorically assumptions for which there is not evidence.”
The day before the hearing he told Fox News that he was about to present evidence that linked the IRS “scandal” “all the way to the White House.”
Fox News also reported that “it looks as if in testimony we’re going to hear later today Darrell Issa has information that will link the scandal to the White House.” Carter Hull, a retired IRS attorney, and Elizabeth Hofacre, an Exempt Organizations Determinations Specialist in the Cincinnati office, were going to testify, according to Fox, that the Cincinnati office received specific instructions from Washington regarding the targeting of conservative groups, ostensibly saying that the order originated in the White House. Hull, they said, would implicate the IRS’ chief counsel’s office, who is an Obama appointee.
Issa himself went on Fox News and said in plain English that Hull would implicate “high ranking people,” including the office of the general counsel.
Didn’t happen. Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (to Hofacre): “Based on your own experience, did you ever receive direction from anyone from the White House concerning your handling of the Tea Party applications?”
Hofacre: “No sir, I did not.”
Carter Hull, despite promises to the contrary, also denied what Issa had insisted we would hear.
Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL): “Do you have any reason to believe that this decision to have the IRS’ chief counsel’s office review Tea Party cases was motivated by political bias?”
Hull: “No, I do not.”
There is plenty of evidence of bias, but it’s not on the part of the IRS; it’s on the part of Darrell Issa and his Republican colleagues. Cummings told Chris Matthews that the Inspector General (appointed by Issa) had never looked into what happened to the progressive groups that were scrutinized, and that he “has stood in the way of us getting certain information that the IRS wants to give us. But he has personally blocked that information from coming to us.”
“In talking to folks at the IRS,” he continued, “they don’t even remember a time when the IG actually blocked them from providing information to Congress.”
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Darrell Issa is a pathological liar. His charade would be laughable if it weren’t so pathetic. He is worse than Duke Cunningham because he continues to get away with fraud. Darrell Issa’s House Oversight Committee could very well be the most corrupt and inept in the nation’s history. He has been singularly focused on making himself a household name, to what end we can’t be sure other than his quest to take down the president. And he has brought more national political shame to San Diego than even the “Enron by the Sea” label.
San Diego’s long, national Darrell Issa nightmare must come to an end.