By Doug Porter
It’s been nearly four years since Congressman Darrell Issa assumed leadership of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and he has yet to successfully complete any of his crusades against the forces of evil in the Obama administration.
His term is coming to an end with the start of the next Congress in January, and Issa’s embarked on one final campaign to shore up his legacy: proving the Environmental Protection Agency is pro-environment.
Since 2008 Issa has been successful in garnering headlines, giving right-wing mythology enough credibility to get repeated on the evening news and ruining the lives of any federal bureaucrat foolish enough to try and stand up to his bullying.
But the sad fact is that no actual reforms have emerged out of any of his quests, mostly because he’s unable to prove the underlying premise calling for those reforms. Not that he really cares; the goals have always been to malign the current administration and to tap into the fundraising potential of those poor souls suffering from Deranged Obama Syndrome.
From Alex Pareene at Salon:
Darrell Issa had one job — use his position as chairman of the House Oversight Committee to keep the media fixated on a series of open-ended investigations into frivolous Obama administration scandals, like in the good old Clinton days — and he has totally botched it. When Issa took over the committee in 2011, he essentially promised the right that he’d take down the Obama administration. Between the FDA, WikiLeaks, Fannie Mae, Solyndra and Fast and Furious, he’d surely find something impeachment-worthy. But none of those really panned out. Next came Benghazi, which will live on forever in conservative lore as the most scandalous scandal of all time, but which suffers from the fact that no one outside the conservative bubble can figure out what the “political scandal” part of the attack is supposed to be.
Issa got the outright gift, last year, of the political press deciding to package three largely unrelated news stories — the Justice Department gaining access to the phone logs of journalists, the IRS maybe-sorta applying excessive scrutiny to certain mostly conservative groups, and Benghazi … having happened, I guess — as a sort of trifecta of “Obama scandals.” This was his opportunity! Issa pounced on the IRS scandal, as usual promising earth-shattering revelations. He chose … poorly.
If you google “Darrell Issa Joe McCarthy” the search returns 42,000 results (including a couple of stories from the SDFP). He’s been honored–if you can call it that–as the House of Representatives “Best Showhorse” in Washingtonian Magazine’s biennial survey of the Best and Worst in Congress.
One Final Conspiracy
What with the Pentagon issuing a report this week saying climate change is an immediate threat to national security and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’ s pronouncement about last month being the warmest September since record-keeping began in 1880, Issa’s doing his damnest to discredit the government agency (EPA) charged with taking action on the subject.
The difference between climate change and terrorism (both considered threats to our national security) is that taking action on the environment is perceived as threatening to the dirty energy industry, while bombing brown people halfway around the world is a real money maker.
Let us turn to the rightish Daily Caller to reveal the reasoning behind Congressman Issa’s latest quest:
Evidence of collusion between environmental groups and the Obama administration is piling up, as Republican lawmakers release more correspondence between top agency officials and eco-lobbyists.
Republicans Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana and Rep. Darrell Issa of California have launched an investigation into the influence the Natural Resources Defense Council, a prominent environmental group, over the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Clean Power Plan” — a contentious rule that aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants already in operation.
The proposed rule was announced in June and is now in a public comment period.
When implemented it would force American power plants to sharply curb carbon emissions, the chief cause of global warming. Hundreds of coal-fired power plants may have to be shuttered as a result and the rule would stand as a defining element of the administration’s legacy on fighting climate change.
Needless to say, the dirty energy lobby and their GOP allies have attacked the Clean Power Plan as a “war on coal” that will raise energy prices and destroy jobs.
Issa leaked (via unnamed Republican staffers) emails suggesting the environmentalist non-profit worked with the EPA to create the rules.
Republicans say the most vivid example of a cozy relationship is an email exchange […] celebrating legal maneuvering that provided Mr. Obama with something both the E.P.A. and the environmental group wanted: a court-ordered deadline for release of a 2012 E.P.A. regulation curbing greenhouse gas emissions on future power plants — a precursor to Mr. Obama’s announcement in June. (The environmental group had joined with others to sue the E.P.A. to force the regulation, and the E.P.A. quickly settled.)
Issa is one of your “yes, but” climate change deniers. He’s said in the past he believes that “the science community does not agree to the extent of the problem or the critical threshold of when this problem is truly catastrophic.”
The Issa Re-Election Campaign
Darrell Issa is running for re-election in the 49th Congressional district. He’s the wealthiest member of Congress ($455 million) and barely campaigning for the job, despite having amassed a $3.5 million war-chest.
How does he do it?
From New Republic:
From his post as chairman, Issa has incessantly beat the drum of Benghazi and other scandals. According to a search of Nexis, the terms “Issa” and “Benghazi” have appeared together in Fox News segments 221 times since September 11, 2012. On Sean Hannity’s show a year ago he proclaimed, “The administration has made a claim that for classified reasons they change the story. We believe right now that may be the biggest lie of all.” Encouraged by Hannity, Issa then stated, “Lying to Congress is a crime,” stoking the conservative fantasy of a lawless White House.
Issa’s campaign website does not contain the standard political pictures of constituents and community events. Instead it contains a panoply of press clippings primarily focused the Congressman’s investigations of the White House and attacks on Obamacare. Currently the top two stories on DarrellIssa.com announce the subpoena of Secretary of State John Kerry and an article from Breitbart.com by his former aide and current consultant Kurt Bardella headlined “They Knew and They Lied About Benghazi.” (Breitbart.com notes that Bardella is a “former” aide to Issa but does not disclose that his company Endeavor Strategic Communications was on his campaign committee’s payroll as of his latest FEC filing.)
As a reward, the Republican grassroots have padded Issa’s coffers: The key ingredient to his miraculous fundraising turnaround has not been high-dollar gifts from PACs and lobbyists, but ordinary Republican voters thanking him, through their contributions, for being the president’s number one antagonist. Issa has nurtured this relationship with the GOP base by cultivating an enormous direct-marketing operation. Four of his top six campaign expenditures so far this year were to direct mail firms and his third largest expense was $70,684 paid to the Post Office.
Prospects for Change
The 49th Congressional district as presently constituted includes the northern coastal regions of San Diego County from Del Mar up through Dana Point in Orange County.
It’s a wealthy and overwhelmingly white (61.5%) and conservative region. In 2010, the last non-presidential election, Issa defeated his opponent by nearly a 2 to 1 margin. In 2012 he won with the smallest margin of victory in his political career, a mere 16 points.
Not everybody is thrilled with Darrell Issa’s performance in Congress:
But despite reportedly issuing triple the number of subpoenas as the prior three chairs combined, Issa’s investigations have yielded no tangible results, drawing criticism that the self-proclaimed “watchdog” has wastefully expended taxpayer dollars on investigations targeting the Obama administration on unsubstantiated claims, while failing to launch investigations against corporations charged with the same allegations.
Issa has also been named among the most corrupt members of Congress by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
According to the Huffington Post, as a member of the House Oversight Committee on Waste, Fraud and Abuse, developed to reign in unnecessary spending, he is one of the most wasteful spenders. Democrats say the Benghazi investigation is driven by Issa’s desire to smear Clinton ahead of a potential 2016 presidential run. All 17 of the committee’s Democrats sent him a letter urging him to stop politicizing the incident and to focus on ways the committee can strengthen security at diplomatic posts. Their letter cites three times Issa earned “Four Pinocchios” from the Washington Post Fact Checker for his false claims about Clinton. The costs of Issa’s IRS investigation are staggering. His probe of that agency has cost at least $14 million and more than 97,000 hours, according to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
Democrat David Peiser has walked into this lion’s den of reactionary politics to challenge Issa this year.
The Encinitas resident is running on a platform focusing on climate change action, job creation, and improving the Affordable Care Act.
But mostly he’s running on the fact that he’s not Darrell Issa. There’s a nifty social media campaign running using the hashtags #FireIssa, #HirePeiser. He’s attracted contributors from 38 states.
A survey done by Public Policy Polling during the October, 2013 government shutdown (admittedly a nadir for GOP congressmen) found 49% of 650 district residents disapproved of the job Issa was doing; 43% approved and 9% were uncertain.
However, in the June primary Peiser pulled a mere 28.4% of the vote in a three way contest. There would appear to be a big gap between what people say to pollsters with generic questions and what they do in the voting booth.
None-the-less, Peiser’s done a serious job of campaigning, not only in his own district but at events throughout the region. If nothing else he’s building up the kind of name recognition that could serve as a jump start for future campaigns.
On This Day: 1914 – President Woodrow Wilson signs the Clayton Antitrust Act—often referred to as “Labor’s Magna Carta”—establishing that unions are not “conspiracies” under the law. It for the first time freed unions to strike, picket and boycott employers. the years that followed, however, numerous state measures and negative court interpretations weakened the law 1968 – Led Zeppelin made its performance debut in England. 1984 – The Freedom of Information Act was passed.
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