The Two Faces of Darrell Issa

 Is He a Traitor to America?


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Senator John Barrasso

Presented by: The Religious Freedom Coalition of the SouthEast

Senator John Barrasso

Bush and Wicca and Doreen Valiente

Question:  "Separation between Church and State."  Who coined the Phrase?  Give up?  Answer:   Thomas Jefferson - one of the founding fathers of this great Nation and a creator of the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment to that same Constitution.  Thomas Jefferson, in 1802, wrote a Letter to the Dansbury Baptist Convention, referring to the First Amendment to the US Constitution.  In it he said:

"Believing that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their Legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State."




Introduction: Are Extremist Republicans Traitors To America?

Guess how Darrell Issa thinks he'll be able to shape the 2016 debate

Darrell Issa Commits A Treasonous High Crime By Leaking Sensitive Obamacare Documents

Democrats File a Complaint Against Darrell Issa’s IRS Scandal Co-Conspirators

Darrell Issa’s Witchhunt Caused 150 IRS Employees to Work 70,000 Hours

Darrell Issa Hid The Truth About Benghazi For a Year While Attacking President Obama

Darrell Issa’s Agenda Outed As He Is Labeled a Pure Enemy Of The U.S. Postal Service

Darrell Issa Has Sleazy Plan to Restore Veterans’ Pensions By Privatizing the Post Office

David Plouffe Calls Rep. Darrell Issa 'Ethically Loose' and 'Mr Grand Theft Auto'

Martin Bashir Reminds Viewers of Darrell Issa's Criminal Past

The Profiteers Club: Congressman Darrell Issa

A Businessman in Congress Helps Himself

While Fighting To Block SEC Investigation Of Goldman Sachs, Rep. Darrell Issa Bought Goldman Sachs Bonds!

Did the Mexican Government say the Obama Administration Committed an ‘Act of War’?


Are Extremist Republicans Traitors To America? by R. Blackbird

Extremist Republicans are selfish, power hungry, hateful of the poor, disloyal to the nation and its people, dishonest, avaricious, scornful of the nation's history, the dignity of its institutions, its standards of political morality, and its vision of advancement for all the people. The Republicans love war as long as they and theirs do not have to put on helmets and carry guns into the fighting. They use lies to start wars that kill hundreds of thousands of innocents and thousands of our own military service people. They love massive war-time profits, unavailable to their rich masters if war is absent.

Those Extremist Republicans hate the rest of us, which they must, in order to pass away from themselves and onto us, the financial burdens and losses their crimes, schemes and thefts cause. They are prolific, incessant, and destructive liars. They are blasphemers for they insist that their hateful and destructive deeds are the work of God. They are apostates for they gleefully attack the poor, the immigrants, the old and the sick, of whom God has commanded all of us to be mindful.

There is no reasoning with them, for all their logic is built on false premises. There is no appealing to them for honor's sake for they have lost all sense of shame and have no honor, there is no appealing to them for the nation's sake for that it what they hate the most.

Extremist Republicans are the enemy.

Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Rep. Darrell Issa holds a hearing on
Speaking yesterday at a Republican fundraiser in New Hampshire, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa said he wasn't in the Granite State because he want to run for president, but he did admit that 2016 wasn't far from his mind.
“I came here to hopefully shape the debate for 2016 — not join it — but shape it,” the congressman told the audience, which filled a banquet room at the Grappone Center.
And I'll bet you won't be surprised to learn how he plans to shape it:

“I will get to the top of Benghazi and that’s where we have to go,” he said.

By all means, Congressman, please proceed. Yes, please proceed.


Darrell Issa Commits A Treasonous High Crime By Leaking Sensitive Obamacare Documents


According to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Darrell Issa has jeopardized the security of the ACA website by leaking sensitive Obamacare documents to unauthorized consultants.

Cummings wrote,

On several occasions since November, I have written to you to request that we meet to discuss the adoption of a bipartisan protocol to safeguard sensitive documents obtained during this investigation and to develop a responsible approach to making information public that the Committee determines is important to its investigation.

I also remain concerned with the unilateral release by your office of partial transcripts and select document excerpts to promote partisan narratives that often turn out to be inaccurate, particularly when these releases are not part of any official report, correspondence, or other Committee action. Not only is this a disservice to the American people and the goals we share, but it undermines the credibility and integrity of the Committee.

Another concern is the security of documents in the custody of the Committee. Currently, the Committee has no procedure governing the storage and handling of these sensitive documents. As a result, there have been two separate occasions last week when sensitive documents were left unattended in unlocked rooms accessible by the public. Although I understand that your office believes these documents are not sensitive, one was produced to the Committee in encrypted, password-protected format, and both were marked as sensitive documents that require special handling.

A third concern relates to providing access to sensitive information to individuals outside the Committee. In December, you stated that you intended to “consult carefully with non-conflicted experts to ensure no information is released that could further jeopardize the website’s security.” Several days later, you wrote a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services indicating that you had already begun this process, stating that you would “continue” consulting with outside security experts.

Based on your statements, it is unclear who these outside experts are, who they work for, and who they may be affiliated with, raising concerns about what they may do with the information. If they do not work for the government or any of its contractors, it is unclear what contractual or other restrictions they are under not to disclose this sensitive information further. There have been multiple reports about organizations and individuals who are deliberately targeting the website for malicious purposes. The risk that this information could get into the wrong hands increases dramatically as more individuals gain access to it, particularly when these individuals are under no obligation to safeguard it.

Darrell Issa is leaking sensitive Obamacare documents to consultants that he refuses to name. Even more troubling is the fact that he will not disclose what the individuals intend to do with this information. Rep. Issa is clearly not securing important documents, and making those documents available to parties that he refuses to identify. Given his partisan bent, it is a safe guess that this is all part of an attempt to destroy Obamacare.

Twice last week someone left sensitive documents unattended in an unlocked room that is accessible to the public. Why do you think someone would do that? Carelessness perhaps, but a more likely answer is that someone wanted those documents available to people who aren’t authorized to view them.

Rep. Cummings was correct. Issa’s behavior increases the possibility that hackers can get their hands on this sensitive information, which I suspect is exactly what Rep. Issa wants. Issa has abused his power as chairman of the House Oversight Committee from the moment that he took power. Rep. Issa’s one and only goal has always been to impeach President Obama.

It is easy to imagine that Issa would leak sensitive documents related to the security of in order to jeopardize the website. It’s time for the investigator to become the investigated. If Issa is trying to sabotage the ACA website through leaks, he must be removed from office.

Issa’s obsession with bringing down the Obama presidency may have finally taken him too far, and he must be stopped.


Democrats File a Complaint Against Darrell Issa’s IRS Scandal Co-Conspirators


A conspiracy is a secret plan or agreement between two or more persons to perform together an illegal, wrongful, or subversive act. One might rightfully assume that since Americans elected an African American man as President, Republicans conspired to thwart not only Barack Obama’s presidency, but economic recovery and ultimately the government’s ability to operate normally. Now it appears there was, and is, an ongoing conspiracy between a Republican member of the House and a George W. Bush appointee who is still with the Treasury Department. All indications point to a conspiratorial plot to mislead Congress and the public to harm President Obama and the Internal Revenue Service that prompted two Democratic Representatives to file a formal complaint with the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) to put an end to the conspiracy and punish the participants.

On Thursday, the two Democrats called for a formal investigation of J. Russell George, a federal auditor who accused the Internal Revenue Service of gross mismanagement in targeting teabagger advocacy groups based on their organization’s names and policy positions on their 501 (C)(4) social welfare applications. The formal complaint with the special watchdog council questions George’s independence because he met and conspired secretly with Darrell Issa last year to issue a scathing, inaccurate, and misleading report accusing the Internal Revenue Service of specifically targeting conservative groups when, in fact, progressive groups were targeted as well. One eventually had their application for 501 status declined.

The two Democrats filing the complaint, Representatives Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Matt Cartwright (D-Penn.), accused George of giving Darrell Issa precisely what he asked for; a “fundamentally flawed performance audit” that was “incomplete” and “outright misleading.” The complaint reported that George held secret briefings with Republican members of the House Oversight Panel last year without Democrats on the panel’s knowledge to conceal the conspiratorial malfeasance between Bush-appointee George and corrupt Oversight Panel chairman Darrell Issa. Issa used the misleading audit to assert that the White House directed the IRS to target conservative groups. Issa’s corrupt machinations inflamed the public and conservatives. Issa profited by raising $450,000 more in campaign donations than the previous quarter and the most in his eleven year stint in Congress.

The 22-page complaint to the CIGIE says Democrats on the House Oversight Committee are concerned over George’s “troubling activities including noncompliance with respect to conducting a performance audit in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards…that are intended to provide a framework for conducting high quality audits with competence, integrity, objectivity, and independence.” Connolly and Cartwright requested that CIGIE “initiate a thorough review of the conduct of the Inspector General J. Russell George based on the facts, evidence, and analysis contained in this letter.” The complaint continued that “George produced a fundamentally flawed performance audit that harmed the public interest to such a severe extent that trust and confidence in the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s (TIGTA) independence, ethics, competence, and quality control have been called into question and its effectiveness threatened.” The TITGA report claimed the IRS singled out conservative and teabagger groups despite clear evidence progressive and liberal groups’ applications for 501 (C)(4) social welfare status were also targeted.

For his part, IG George admitted there were other organizations’ 501 (C)(4) social welfare applications the IRS scrutinized, and he confessed they were not what the audit focused on lending credibility to the contention Issa issued instructions to focus on teabaggers in private. George said, “We noted there were other ‘be on the lookout’ lists that included other types of organizations, but that was not the initial charge of the review and not the focus.” Of course it was not the initial charge or the focus because Issa met privately with George and conspired to focus on tea party groups. George’s team obligingly followed Issa’s instructions and not only focused on teabaggers, but deliberately omitted the IRS’s scrutiny of progressive groups’ applications to mislead Congress, and the American people, into believing that only conservative groups’ applications for tax-exempt status were scrutinized.

George’s misleading and faulty audit led to public outrage, six federal probes, and a leadership change at the IRS. The deceptive report prompted the Treasury Department to draft a new guideline to distinguish what types of political activities disqualify groups from tax-exempt status. The rule change sets clear boundaries to assist IRS employees to better understand which applications are truly for social welfare groups, but Republicans reject the new rule and sent a letter to IRS commissioner Koskinen warning him to withdraw the rules or risk being portrayed as working for the White House to silence the President’s political opponents, abridge teabaggers’ free speech, and reveal their dark money donors’ identities.

What really prompted Democrats to file a formal complaint is a revelation that Issa met with George again in private in January to discuss an audit of the Affordable Care Act. Representatives Elijah Cummings and Gerald Connolly complained in a letter to the inspector general that his staff held an “in-person meeting with Republican Committee staff in their offices on January 27, 2014 and discussed substantive information about a new audit your office has initiated on data security issues relating to the Affordable Care Act. Your staff also discussed specific documents relating to this audit that your office has obtained as part of its review. We object strongly to your office’s repeated partisan meetings with Chairman Darrell Issa and his staff after intentionally excluding Democratic Committee Members and staff—particularly regarding matters that currently are under active investigation by both your office and this Committee. According to subsequent accounts from your office, Chairman Issa’s staff forbade you from including any Democratic Committee Members or staff in that meeting, and your staff accepted these terms without even informing my office. Democratic staff became aware of this meeting only after it occurred.” It was at least the second time in less than ten months that the inspector general met secretly with Issa and it is obvious that they were involved in a conspiracy because Issa prohibited the IG from including Democrats on the committee or sending them copies of documents.

It is beyond dispute that IG George is guilty of meeting secretly with Issa and Republicans to produce a deliberately flawed, misleading, and incomplete performance audit to bolster Issa’s lie that the White House instructed the IRS to target and reject teabagger groups’ applications for social welfare status. According to responsibilities outlined in the Inspector General Act of 1978, George violated the requirement that he “provide a means for keeping the head of the establishment and the Congress fully and currently informed about problems and deficiencies relating to the administration of such programs and operations and the necessity for and progress of corrective action.” George deliberately did not inform Democrats on the Oversight committee because he was involved in an Issa conspiracy to mislead Congress and the American people. The Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency has little option but to thoroughly investigate J. Russell George, a Bush appointee, and recommend his immediate termination with extreme prejudice for conspiring to produce a misleading performance audit.

However, because George is a participant in a conspiracy, it means the leader of the conspiracy, Republican Darrell Issa, also warrants an investigation by a House Ethics Committee for arranging the secret meetings, directing George to focus on conservative groups, using the flawed report for political gain, and wasting taxpayer time with six federal probes and numerous hearings. There is still an active petition demanding the House convene an ethics panel to investigate Issa who enjoyed such a level of success from last year’s secret meetings and phony audit report that he felt comfortable repeating the dirty trick again just two weeks ago.

Darrell Issa has a history of criminal activity and he brought that corrupt mindset to the House Oversight Committee. Issa knew full well that meeting with George to discuss an active investigation without Democrats on the committee in attendance, and withholding substantive evidence from the full committee, is unethical at least and in many people’s minds is downright criminal. For George’s part, he willingly participated in the conspiracy as a political partisan that is contrary to his job description as an independent government watchdog, but he is a Bush appointee and his loyalties obviously lie with the Republicans and their five year conspiracy to thwart the Obama presidency, economic recovery, and United States’ government.

This incident may be the best hope to get the slimy criminal Darrell Issa out of Congress at best, and at least off the House Oversight Committee where he has spent three years wasting taxpayer time and money chasing phony scandals of his making. If there is any justice left in America, when J. Russell George is terminated with prejudice Darrell Issa will be facing an ethics committee for conspiring to harm the Internal Revenue Service, President Obama, and the United States’ government that has been in a state of gridlock while the crook Darrell Issa wastes the House of Representatives’ time chasing phony scandals of Issa’s making.

Darrell Issa’s Witchhunt Caused 150 IRS Employees to Work 70,000 Hours

Democrats are on the offensive after discovering that Darrell Issa’s committee withheld vital information in order to perpetrate the IRS scandal that held the press captive over the 2013 summer until it fell apart when the full evidence was demanded and finally produced. For example, they’ve demanded a reconciliation of the costs of the IRS witch hunt. They’ve filed charges.

In remarks prepared for his opening statement, Ways and Means Committee ranking member Representative Sander Levin (D-MI) called Republicans out for their utter waste of government resources and taxpayer money. He noted, “150 IRS employees have worked 70,000 hours – time taken away from taxpayer services – to accommodate the ongoing requests for information from congressional investigators.”

Levin laid out the intricate time suck Republicans charged the taxpayers for, “More than 500,000 pages of IRS documents have been turned over to congressional committees. Five dozen interviews of current and former IRS employees have taken place. Lawmakers at fifteen congressional hearings have questioned IRS officials.”

The total man-hours for the IRS alone? “In all, more than 150 IRS employees have worked 70,000 hours – time taken away from taxpayer services – to accommodate the ongoing requests for information from congressional investigators.”

To what avail? “And yet, there’s been absolutely no evidence of any corruption unearthed. Not a single piece of evidence showing any political motivation. Nothing showing any involvement outside the IRS.” Oh, so nothing. That’s 70,000 public sector work hours that taxpayers paid for. 150 public sector workers (the same people Republicans are demonizing and accusing of not being worth any money).

Levin called out the deception behind the entire sham, “Had the Treasury Inspector General not left out vital information — producing a fundamentally flawed audit report – it may have dissuaded Republicans from immediately accusing the White House of keeping an “enemies list” and trying to turn the audit into a scandal that they are intent on keeping alive, no matter the facts.”

FACT: “For one, the IG failed to disclose that progressive and other liberal groups were singled out alongside tea party organizations and were among the 298 organizations that he reviewed in his audit.

What’s more, not until two months after the audit report was published did we learn that the IG had instructed his chief investigator to look into the possibility of political motivation by the IRS and that the investigator had concluded that it was confusion – not political motivation – that led IRS employees to single out organizations for further scrutiny.”

So, for this free ad for Republicans, the taxpayers have been charged for — and this is just in the IRS — 70,000 hours. This is not only a matter of what taxpayers paid for in order to get a partisan Republican commercial for the 2014 election, but also what the taxpayers didn’t get. Because when resources are diverted to a huge investigation like this, and remember this took up the spring and summer, they are taken from someplace else.

It’s been nine months of Republicans hiding the truth in order to perpetrate a sham so that they can make a commercial in order to fool the public into voting for them and not asking them about their policies. All the Republicans do is point fingers to distract people from the issues, like their pocketbooks and their access to healthcare.

Darrell Issa Hid The Truth About Benghazi For a Year While Attacking President Obama

It is an unfortunate human trait to look for some kind of moral wrong or legal malfeasance in specific events to incite general public outrage either to benefit someone or to cast aspersion on someone else. Shortly after Republicans won a House majority in the 2010 midterm elections a corrupt Republican, Darrell Issa, promised his only job as chairman of the House Oversight Committee was to have “seven hearings a week, times 40 weeks” investigating the Obama Administration when the 112th Congress began. Issa was desperate to find a scandal to take down President Obama and has investigated everything from the 2009 federal stimulus program to fabricating President Obama’s part in the scandalous Republican government shutdown two months ago.

Issa has wasted taxpayer time and money for three years looking for Obama Administration scandals he subsequently never found, including the tragic deaths of 4 American diplomats in Benghazi Libya on September 11 2012.  Issa’s scandalous investigations aside, it was revealed yesterday that an extensive investigation into the attack on the diplomatic outpost that claimed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three diplomats’ lives found no involvement of al-Qaeda or other international terrorists groups whatsoever like Republicans have claimed for over a year. Instead, the attack was precipitated by, as first reported, extremist Christians in the United States.

A lengthy and comprehensive New York Times investigation informed what Republicans are desperate to keep under wraps because it revealed the Benghazi attack was “accelerated in part by anger at a U.S.-made video denigrating Islam.” The report parroted what any American with half-a-mind has known since Republicans began their relentless propaganda campaign that the Obama administration attempted to cover up al-Qaeda’s alleged role in the attack. According to the chairman of the House Intelligent Committee, Republican Mike Rogers, who kept the al-Qaeda meme alive last month on Fox News, “It was very clear to the individuals on the ground that this was an al-Qaeda-led event.”

However, according to the Times, “The only intelligence connecting Al Qaeda to the attack was an intercepted phone call that night from a participant in the first wave of the attack to a friend in another African country who had ties to members of Al Qaeda. But when the friend heard the attacker’s boasts, he sounded astonished and had no prior knowledge of the assault.” The report said militants surveyed the U.S. compound at least 12 hours before the assault started, but “the violence also had spontaneous elements fueled in large part by anger at the (anti-Islam) video that motivated the initial attack.” It is important to note that the video, titled “Innocence of Muslims,” was made by an American and “had also prompted protests for hours the day before at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.”

The report continued that “Dozens of people (in Benghazi) joined in, some of them provoked by the video and others responding to fast-spreading false rumors that guards inside the American compound had shot Libyan protesters.” According to a suspect who denied participating in the attack, “the video insulting the Prophet Mohammed might well have justified the killing of four Americans.”

Still, Congressional Republicans continue to assert that Stevens and three diplomats died in a carefully planned assault by al-Qaeda because they sought to undermine President Obama’s claim that al-Qaeda was decimated after killing its leadership including Osama bin Laden. Republicans assailed Susan E. Rice for announcing that based on early intelligence reports; the attacks were inspired by “spontaneous street protests that got out of hand as a result of the video denigrating the prophet Mohammed.” Susan Rice was mercilessly condemned by leading Republicans for allegedly lying about the attacks that led her to withdraw her name from consideration as President Obama’s Secretary of State.

For the past year-and-a-half Republicans led a phony search for a Benghazi scandal wasting taxpayer time and money, but why did criminal Issa never investigate the Christian extremists for making, promoting, and releasing the video that clearly fueled the attacks that killed four American diplomats? If the criminal really wanted to get to the bottom of who was responsible for the attacks he would have begun immediate investigations into American Christians and not President Obama.

Issa can hardly claim Christian extremists were innocent in provoking the attacks because American non-profit Media for Christ obtained film permits to shoot the movie in August 2011, and the project was promoted by Morris Sadek by email and on the blog of the National American Coptic Assembly. By early September, the film was dubbed into Arabic and broadcast on September 9 on Al-Nas, an Egyptian television station; at this point it is prescient to reiterate the video “had prompted protests for hours the day before (the Benghazi attack) at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.” The extremist Christian pastor Terry Jones, known for a Quran-burning controversy that led to riots around the world and endangered American soldiers, knew of the video’s existence prior to the Benghazi attacks and promoted it by announcing his plan to show the 13-minute trailer at his church on September 11, 2012.  It is incomprehensible that the video did not incite protestors to attack the diplomatic outpost due to “anger at a U.S.-made video denigrating Islam,” or that extremist Christians are not culpable for the violence in Benghazi.

Law professors and constitutional law experts pointed out the government cannot prosecute the film’s producer(s) for its content because of the First Amendment, but regardless of First Amendment rights, the Obama administration asked YouTube to review whether to continue hosting the video at all under the company’s policies. YouTube said the video fell within guidelines because it is against Islam, not against Muslim people and thus not considered “hate speech.” Ben Wizner of the American Civil Liberties Union said, “It does make us nervous when the government throws its weight behind any requests for censorship.” However, the Supreme Court has ruled that there are circumstances when free speech is not protected and pulling the video before it was exposed in Muslim countries would have saved four Americans’ lives.

A popular metaphor for speech or actions made for the explicit purpose of creating panic that can lead to injury or death, “shouting fire in a crowded theater,” is a paraphrasing Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.’s Supreme Court opinion in the case Schenck v. United States which held the defendant’s speech in opposition to the draft was not protected under the First Amendment. It is true that Darrell Issa is not, and never will be, a member of the High Court, but if he is frantic to get to the bottom of why four American diplomats were killed in Benghazi it is within his purview and duty to investigate the extremist Christians who incited protests and outrage at Americans in Cairo, and Benghazi, as a result of an anti-Islam video that denigrated the faith and its prophet.

Extremist Christians have a right of free speech, but when their “freedom” results in the deaths of, as Republicans continue repeating, “four American heroes,” then they explicitly created panic leading to the diplomats’ deaths. Fundamentalist Christians have expressed every form of hate speech imaginable against gays, immigrants, and particularly Muslims with impunity and it is high time they are brought to account for their actions. However, there is a tendency in America to give anyone thumping a bible and wrapping themselves in the flag a free pass because they are Christians. The current scandal in Washington is that slimy crook Darrell Issa who has had the same information the New York Times reported for over a year and sat on his ass wasting taxpayer time and money pursuing Barack Obama. Republicans owe Susan Rice a humble apology, the American people tens-of-millions of dollars, and have once again exposed themselves as America’s biggest scandal.

Darrell Issa’s Agenda Outed As He Is Labeled a Pure Enemy Of The U.S. Postal Service



Few Americans would argue that the American government does not have a fairly long list of enemies from around the world, but some of the government’s most dangerous enemies work in Washington and are on a crusade to take down the government. One part of the American government, the United States Postal Service, has elicited special attention from Republicans who boast they are “fighting Washington” as foes of the government, and on Friday slimy Darrell Issa was labeled “a pure enemy of the Postal Service” because he is on a crusade to destroy the agency and hand it to private industry.

The man who proclaimed Issa is a pure enemy of the Postal Service is American Postal Workers Union president Mark Dimondstein who was sounding the alarm over a pilot partnership between the USPS and Willard Romney’s old friend Staples, and warned it is a stalking horse for privatization. Dimondstein said “There hasn’t been a fight to defend the public good, and there hasn’t been a real fight around good jobs,” and said demonstrations outside Staples stores were the first of an escalating wave of protests to save the postal service. The pilot program is the USPS’s desperation attempt to stave off elimination by Republicans led by Darrell Issa who wants the 500,000 postal workers, and their union replaced with low wage retail workers and private delivery companies UPS, FedEx, and DHL.

The program gives the office supply giant authority to provide postal products and services while paying minimum wages that Dimondstein said is supplanting the responsibility of “postal employees in uniform, accountable to the people of the country and under oath of office, and fully trained to protect the privacy and the sanctity of the mail of the public.” Dimondstein acknowledged that the USPS is being forced to find the cheapest “labor doing all of those things instead” because the agency is under attack from Republicans who claim it is posting losses that are largely due to the absurd Republican law requiring the service to fund retiree benefits 75 years into the future. First, no postal employee will ever work for the USPS for 75 years, and second, the requirement demands funding for employees’ that have not yet been born, and third, Republicans make no such demand for any other entity that does work for the government; private or not.

The pre-funding requirement is an abomination that no company could survive, but that is the point of the Republican-passed 2006 law. Issa says he is not interested in destroying the postal service, but he is a liar. After the bipartisan budget deal stole government employees’ pensions, including military retirees, Issa proposed reinstating military retirees’ (only) pensions and paying for them by eliminating USPS Saturday deliveries. Issa continues to assert his primary concern is saving the profitable USPS, but making the agency pay for military retirees pensions Republicans just eliminated had nothing to do with “helping” the USPS. He was attempting to give UPS and FEDEX an inroad to take up what the postal service just lost. He cannot possibly claim his intent is not destroying the postal service when he, on the one hand, claims the USPS is unprofitable and then proposes stealing money from it to pay for reinstating military retirees’ pensions. There is only one goal for Issa and Republicans and it is handing over the postal service to private industry to destroy one of the few remaining large unions in America and eliminate 500,000 living wage jobs from the economy.

In 2010 Issa wrote in an editorial that the Post Office wants Americans’ money to protect its Constitutionally-mandated job because it asked Congress to delay requirements to pre-fund workers retirement for 75 years that would have prevented a $5.2 billion loss that year. It is worth repeating that the USPS would have posted a net profit of $600 million in 2013 without the pre-funding requirement. Issa claimed the USPS wants the American people to provide a “bailout,” and said that Congress has an obligation to fix the Postal Service’s budget imbalance not through a bailout, but through mandates to cut costs and revise labor agreements. Translation; cut costs by using private sector minimum wage workers that is the ultimate labor agreement revision. Issa said American taxpayers do not want to “bail out” the USPS because they cannot make a profit under the Republican pre-funding law, but he and his Republican cohort force American taxpayers to bail out, with subsidies, the highly profitable private oil industry, agricultural corporations, churches, and retail giants like WalMart and McDonald’s through low-wage subsidies food stamps and Medicaid.

Republicans are out to destroy the USPS because they employ over 500,000 Americans, many of them Veterans, who all happen to belong to a union and earn middle class incomes. The USPS would not have to “farm out” services to low-paying retail corporations like Staples if Republicans did not pass a requirement that no company on Earth could survive. Republicans knew the postal service would be profitable without the pre-funding requirement. One thing is certain, if it was a requirement they felt would help businesses, they would demand that churches, WalMart, McDonalds, the oil industry, and agricultural corporations that reap taxpayer subsidies while posting obscene profits follow the same requirements. The postal service is being singled out because workers make living wages, belong to unions, and are considered a government entity’s employees that put them squarely in the crosshairs for privatization Republicans are hastening by attempting to end Saturday delivery and completely phase out the postal service by 2022.

Republicans like Issa want to drive the USPS into bankruptcy to turn over constitutionally-required mail delivery to private enterprises like UPS and FEDEX who donate heavily to Republicans. Destroying the postal service is Republicans way of repaying the two private delivery companies for their continued campaign contributions, and as a special bonus they will decimate a half-a-million union jobs. Remember, Republicans want every American to work for minimum wage and join the ever-growing ranks of Americans living in poverty, and Dimondstein is absolutely correct that “There hasn’t been a fight to defend the public good, and there hasn’t been a real fight around good jobs.” Dimondstein said “The people, we think, will need to step up, and say ‘this is ours, and nobody’s going to take it away from us.” It is possible that the people will step up after a decade of Republicans taking everything away from them, and if there was ever a time to fight for good jobs, it is now when a half-a-million postal service employees are under assault from Republicans. All Republicans are enemies of the government, but the assault on the USPS’s by its pure enemy is, as Dimondstein said, “cynical and diabolical” but that is what Americans should expect from Congress’s slimiest criminal who was convicted of illegally carrying a concealed weapon, suspected of arson and stealing a car.

Darrell Issa Has Sleazy Plan to Restore Veterans’ Pensions By Privatizing the Post Office

Issa Mail

The concept behind the idiom  “every cloud has a silver lining” is that there is always something good in unpleasant situations, and Republicans are notorious for finding something good for their corporate supporters in unpleasant situations they created. Darrell Issa created a so-called scandal with the Internal Revenue Service when he directed them to target teabagger groups seeking 501(C) tax-exemptions, and then turned it into something good for him and dark money groups by investigating the IRS for targeting teabaggers that filled his campaign coffers. Late last week, Issa found a silver lining in another unpleasant situation for military retirees whose pensions are being raided by Republicans in their two-year austerity budget and is turning it into an opportunity to kill Veterans’ jobs, harm the United States Postal Service, and give two corporations control of a government program.

When Republicans demanded payment for relieving 4/10ths of one percent of sequestration cuts for the next two years, they raided government employee’s pensions instead of closing tax loopholes that benefit the richest 1% of income earners. Forcing the middle class, working poor, and elderly Americans to pay for the debt the 1% blew up when Republicans gave them unfunded tax cuts has been a recurring practice over the past five years so it was little surprise Republicans took aim at government employees’ pensions to cover sequestration cuts. However, when they robbed government employees they were also stealing from military retirees and after pressure from veterans, they are seeking another program to slash to restore military retirees’ pensions. All other government employees will continue paying the wealthys’ share of sequester relief and Issa targeted a government program he hates to pay for restoring military pensions; the United States Postal Service.

Issa has made no secret that, like all Republicans, dismantling the Postal Service to give UPS and Federal Express control over delivering the mail is a major step towards privatizing the entire U.S. government. It is not that privatizing the Postal Service will improve mail and parcel delivery; the recent holiday debacle disabused conservatives of the notion that private companies outperform government agencies.  UPS botched last-minute holiday deliveries, and Federal Express (FedEx) was forced to apologize for late-arriving packages; the U.S. Postal Service had a stellar performance record over the holidays. Still, Republicans are Hell-bent on destroying the USPS and Issa came up with a solution that hastens privatizing the Postal Service and restoring military pensions Republicans raided to protect the rich from tax loophole reform.

On Friday, Issa introduced legislation to repeal military pension cuts and pay for them by eliminating the Postal Service’s Saturday deliveries. Issa boasts that not only will dealing another blow to the Postal Service pay for restoring military pensions, it will cut the deficit, but that is not the intent of his legislation. No-one argues eliminating the pension cuts is a bad idea, but Republicans will only eliminate the cuts if they can burden government workers and Veterans with more austerity rather than inconvenience multimillionaires like Darrell Issa.  In Issa’s mind ending Saturday deliveries is a way to repeal the pension cuts and still burden government workers and Veterans by killing their jobs in the short term and privatize the USPS faster than Republicans ever dreamed possible.

Issa knows that ending weekend mail delivery will destroy the postal service’s ability to meet shipping and communication demands of the 21st Century and deliver the result he and his Republican cohort will embrace wholeheartedly. It would mean an immediate shift of mail and parcel traffic to UPS and FedEx that both contribute heavily to Republicans, but fail miserably at providing universal, low-cost service that has been the hallmark of the USPS throughout its existence. However, Issa’s legislation has more good news for Republicans besides hastening Postal Service privatization and it is a defining trait of Republicans since gaining control of the House in 2010; killing jobs. And it is not just killing jobs, it is killing government jobs and as a value added treat for Republicans, it is killing Veterans’ jobs.

Historically, the Postal Service is the nation’s second largest employer of Veterans behind the Defense Department. In fact, more than 20% of USPS employees, over 120,000, have military service records and about a third of those are rated as 30% or more disabled revealing that of all the nation’s businesses, the Postal Service goes to extraordinary lengths to provide good living wage jobs and accommodations for the nation’s Veterans. Issa knows that cuts to the USPS, like ending Saturday deliveries, is  a giant step toward eliminating an agency renowned for helping Veterans due to its policies and support from unions representing postal employees, a third who are Veterans, but there are just too many positives for despicable Republicans to pass up by privatizing the Postal Service.

Democrats in Congress have offered a solution to strengthen the USPS, and restore military retirees’ benefits by passing the Military Retirement Restoration Act introduced by Senator Jeanne Shaheen. The Massachusetts Democrat proposes repealing the part of the austerity budget that cuts military retiree and disabled Veterans’ benefits and offsets the $6 billion cost by ending off-shore tax havens for American corporations that incorporate offshore to claim “foreign” status and avoid paying taxes. Shaheen’s legislation is co-sponsored by Senator Tammy Baldwin who said the provision will raise more than $6.6 billion over ten years and is “a common sense measure built on the idea that everyone needs to pay their fair share. By closing this one corporate tax loophole, we can ensure our military veterans receive the benefits they’ve earned and deserve.” It also saves the USPS from Issa’s privatization scheme, preserves Veterans’ and half-a-million postal workers’ jobs, and ensures every American that their mail will be delivered reliably.

Issa’s proposal informs that there is no bad Republican legislation that he, or any Republican, cannot make worse to satisfy their dirty machinations to privatize the government, kill Americans’ jobs, repay UPS and FedEx for campaign donations, deprive Americans of reliable mail delivery, and punish Veterans; all the while portraying the privatization scheme as restoring Veteran’s benefits Republicans stole in the first place. Darrell  Issa has a criminal history and it has been painfully obvious he brought that mindset to Congress; particularly since he has been Chairman of the House Oversight Committee. He benefitted from instructing the IRS to investigate teabagger groups and he is attempting to benefit from Republicans’ attempt to steal government employees, including Veterans’, pensions, and it leads one to suspect that maybe cutting military pensions was part of the Republican plan to dismantle the Postal Service all along.


David Plouffe Calls Rep. Darrell Issa 'Ethically Loose' and 'Mr Grand Theft Auto'

Excerpted from an article on crooks and liars by John Amato June 3, 2013

David Plouffe responds to Rep. Issa calling Obama's PR man Jay Carney a 'paid liar' by highlighting Issa's shady past. I almost forgot to tell you that Rep. Darrell Issa called Jay Carney a paid liar on CNN yesterday.

For Rep. Darrell Issa to call anybody a paid liar is simply insulting to anyone who made it past the first grade. As we've reported many times, Arson Issa has a very shady business history that's been recounted by the New Yorker's yan Lizza (and many others) in a piece called "Don’t Look Back...Darrell Issa, the congressman about to make life more difficult for President Obama, has had some troubles of his own." The NY Times also ran a story called: A Businessman in Congress Helps His District and Himself.

Rep. Issa has been convicted of gun charges, been indicted for grand theft auto and has been accused of burning down his own business. Nice. Arson Issa was also the man who basically funded the recall of California's Gov. Gray Davis so he could become the governor, but abruptly dropped out when Arnold dropped in back in 2003.

Since the press has been virtually silent on his past since he's making good on his promise to try and burn down the White House, it was nice to see David Plouffe take to Twitter and call him out for what he is.

Plouffe was busy smacking around Karl Rove on ABC Sunday morning, but finally got around to Mr. Grand Theft Auto today.

Howie Klein wonders why the DCCC refuses to target Issa and I agree with him.

Last year, Darrel Issa skated to reelection, winning back his seat (CA-49) 139-127 (59%) to 97,454 (41%). There are parts of two counties in the district: Orange County, where he won 66% and, San Diego, where he won 56%. There's more than twice as much San Diego in CA-49 as Orange County. Does that seem too hopeless to tackle? Let's look a little closer.

In 2008, Obama and McCain basically tied, although Obama officially won the district by a few votes. Last year, Romney did better than McCain, besting Obama 52-46%. The PVI is R+4. Half a dozen Democrats won in districts that had PVIs of R+4 or worse.
Probably the most hated incumbents in Congress are John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, Bachmann (who's retiring, so we'll leave her out of this discussion), Darrell Issa. Boehner and Cantor have very difficult districts for Democrats, respectively R+15 and R+10. Issa and Ryan are much more vulnerable, respectively R+4 and R+3.

It's time Steve Israel finds someone to take him out at the polls. -

I almost forgot to tell you that Rep. Darrell Issa called Jay Carney a paid liar on CNN yesterday.

ISSA: The whole transcript will be put out. We understand -- these are in real time. And the administration is still -- they're paid liar, their spokesperson, picture behind, he's still making up things about what happens in calling this local rogue. There's no indication -- the reason the Lois Lerner tried to take the fifth is not because there is a rogue in Cincinnati, it's because this is a problem that was coordinated in all likelihood right out of Washington headquarters and we're getting to proving it.

For Rep. Darrell Issa to call anybody a paid liar is simply insulting to anyone who made it past the first grade. As we've reported many times, Arson Issa has a very shady business history that's been recounted by the New Yorker's Ryan Lizza (and many others) in a piece called "Don’t Look Back...Darrell Issa, the congressman about to make life more difficult for President Obama, has had some troubles of his own." The NY Times also ran a story called: A Businessman in Congress Helps His District and Himself.

Rep. Issa has been convicted of gun charges, been indicted for grand theft auto and has been accused of burning down his own business. Nice. Arson Issa was also the man who basically funded the recall of California's Gov. Gray Davis so he could become the governor, but abruptly dropped out when Arnold dropped in back in 2003.

Since the press has been virtually silent on his past since he's making good on his promise to try and burn down the White House, it was nice to see David Plouffe take to Twitter and call him out for what he is.

Plouffe was busy smacking around Karl Rove on ABC Sunday morning, but finally got around to Mr. Grand Theft Auto today.

Martin Bashir Reminds Viewers of Darrell Issa's Criminal Past

Excerpts from a article on crooks and liars by/karoli on May 17, 2013


Bashir spent some time reminding us all of Darrell Issa's past criminal transgressions just in case we had forgotten that the fox is in charge of the henhouse right now.

Now that we're all being treated to the sight of Darrell Issa puffing up and bloviating about his work as chairman of the House Oversight Committee, this clip with Ari Melber and Martin Bashir is an excellent reminder of which fox currently chairs the henhouse. Ryan Lizza's 2011 profile of Issa served as the basis for today's discussion.

There is the car theft, for example. Oh, alleged car theft, I should say. After all, the man who made his fortune from a car alarm company was accused of auto theft at one point:

A member of Issa’s Army unit, Jay Bergey, told Williams that his most vivid recollection of the young Issa was that in December, 1971, Issa stole his car, a yellow Dodge Charger. “I confronted Issa,” Bergey said in 1998. “I got in his face and threatened to kill him, and magically my car reappeared the next day, abandoned on the turnpike.”

Ok, maybe that was a prank, but after that, there was this:

On March 15, 1972, three months after Issa allegedly stole Jay Bergey’s car and one month after he left the Army for the first time, Ohio police arrested Issa and his older brother, William, and charged them with stealing a red Maserati from a Cleveland showroom. The judge eventually dismissed the case.

While the Maserati case was pending, Issa went to college. Just before 11 p.m. on Friday, December 1, 1972, two police officers on patrol in the small town of Adrian noticed Issa driving a yellow Volkswagen the wrong way down a one-way street. The police pulled him over, and, as Issa retrieved the car registration, an officer saw something peculiar in the glove compartment. He searched it, and, according to the police report, found a .25-calibre Colt automatic inside a box of ammunition, along with a “military pouch” that contained “44 rounds of ammo and a tear gas gun and two rounds of ammo for it.” Issa was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon. The policeman asked why he was armed. “He stated in Ohio you could carry a gun as long as you had a justifiable reason,” the report said. “His justifiable reason was for his car’s protection and his.” Issa pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of possession of an unregistered gun. He paid a small fine and was sentenced to six months’ probation.

When Issa ran for the Senate in 1998, he rewrote his past:

"He had been a soldier, and he claimed that he was part of an elite bomb detecting unit that guarded President Nixon at the 1971 World Series," said Williams.

Williams called up the Nixon Presidential Library, and was told that Nixon hadn't gone to any World Series games that year. Then Williams looked into Issa's purportedly stellar career in the Army.

"The biography that he was providing the press in the context of his campaign was all wrong. He had a bad conduct rating. He was demoted, and a fellow soldier accused him of stealing his car," said Williams.

But probably the most suspicious and most uninvestigated event in Issa's checkered past is the mysterious 1982 fire at his factory at a time where he was buying out the owner of Steal Stopper, the predecessor to Issa's car alarm company. Issa quadrupled his insurance coverage and then boom! The place burned down. Lizza:

Joey Adkins, the former owner of Steal Stopper, provided the main evidence against Issa. On the afternoon of September 20, 1982, in a lengthy recorded interview with an insurance investigator, he described a series of suspicious actions by Issa before the fire. Adkins, who still worked for Steal Stopper, said that Issa removed the company’s Apple II computer from the building, including “all hardware, all software, all the instruction books,” and also “the discs for accounts payable, accounts receivable, customer list, everything.” According to Adkins, Issa also transferred a copy of every design used by Steal Stopper from a filing cabinet to a fireproof box. He also said that Issa put in the box some important silk screens used in the production of circuit boards. Insurance officials noted that, less than three weeks before the fire, Issa had increased his insurance from a hundred thousand dollars to four hundred and sixty-two thousand dollars. “Quite frankly,” Adkins told the investigator, “I feel the man set the fire.”

So did the insurance company. They finally settled out of court for about $20,000, which was a fraction of what Issa had sued them for.

Not mentioned in the Bashir discussion but equally interesting is this small nugget:

The insurance company, meanwhile, had found something peculiar about Issa, unrelated to the arson: there was no indication of where his initial capital came from. After interviewing a family member, an investigator reported, “She was unable to advise us as to his financial banking [sic] to become an officer in Quantum Inc.” A second report noted, “We were unable to find the source of his financing for the business ventures he is engaged in at the present time.”

This is the guy holding himself out as the crusader for What is Right and Just. Or as Bashir called him, a "paragon of virtue."

The Profiteers Club: Congressman Darrell Issa


During the debt-ceiling dust up, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) claimed the U.S. deserved a downgrade if Congress didn't slash spending down to the bare bones. He also claimed the August 2nd date for raising the debt-ceiling was meaningless.

However, Issa doesn't mind turning a profit and availing himself much of government largesse to do so. As he votes and argues for deep cuts to government spending (and jobs) for all of us, he's doing a wonderful job of lining his own purse.

The New York Times' Eric Lichtblau has some tasty tidbits in his in-depth piece on Issa:

Even as he has built a reputation as a forceful Congressional advocate for business, Mr. Issa has bought up office buildings, split a holding company into separate multi-billion dollar businesses, started an insurance company, traded hundreds of millions of dollars in securities, invested in overseas funds, retained an interest in his auto-alarm company and built up a family foundation.

As his private wealth and public power have grown, so too has the overlap between his private and business lives, with at least some of the congressman’s government actions helping to make a rich man even richer and raising the potential for conflicts.

He has secured millions of dollars in Congressional earmarks for road work and public works projects that promise improved traffic and other benefits to the many commercial properties he owns here north of San Diego. In one case, more than $800,000 in earmarks he arranged will help widen a busy thoroughfare in front of a medical plaza he bought for $10.3 million.

Lee Fang over at ThinkProgress reported on the earmarks last March.

ThinkProgress has discovered more troubling evidence that Issa may have blended his work as a lawmaker with his own business empire.

After founding a successful car alarm company, Issa invested his fortune in a sprawling network of real estate companies with holdings throughout his district. One of Issa’s most valuable properties, a medical office building at 2067 West Vista Way in Vista, California, is called the Vista Medical Center, and was purchased in 2008 for $16.6 million. Described as “a long-term investment,” the property was bought by a company called Viper LLC, a business entity operated by Issa’s family that Issa has up to a $25 million dollar stake in.

Around the same time Issa made the Vista Medical Center purchase, the congressman began requesting millions of dollars worth of earmarks to widen and improve the highway adjacent to the building. In 2008, he requested $2 million to expand West Vista Way, the road in front of his “long-term investment,” but only received $245,000 from the government. The next year, Issa made another earmark request for improving the West Vista Way highway next to his building. He earmarked another$570,000, bringing his total to $815,000, to add parking lots, widen the road, add bus stops, improve the sewer system, and other utility work.

Most troubling to me are Issa's connections to Wall Street. From Lichtblau's article:

And Mr. Issa is no ordinary Merrill customer.

His transactions there have totaled more than a billion dollars in the last decade, records show. In the aftermath of the firm’s acquisition in September 2008, in fact, he bought and sold at least $206 million in Merrill Lynch mutual funds in the next 15 days, records show.

His ties to the bank deepened last year, records show, as Merrill Lynch gave him two “personal notes” for lines of credit worth at least $75 million.

Yes, this is the guy who is the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. In his tenure in that position since January, he's gone after the NLRB on behalf of Boeing Corporation, taken aim at President Obama's re-election campaign, attacked the Obama administration and opened an investigation over improved CAFE standards, and obliged his NRA masters by attacking the ATF and Eric Holder for "Operation Fast and Furious".

If I were the IRS, and I read any of the articles Lee Fang has written about Issa, or this article in the New York Times, I think I would be opening audits on the tax-exempt family foundation, at the very least. Darrell Issa is seems to be another example of those who condemn what they do.

Tags: Corruption, Darrell Issa, graft, greed, Vista


A Businessman in Congress Helps Himself

Drew Angerer/The New York Times

Darrell Issa has been a forceful advocate for business while his own companies thrive.

Darrell Issa's businesses have prospered since he was elected in 2000. The properties his management company in California owns include a building housing a Hooters restaurant.

Just a few steps down the hall, Representative Darrell Issa, the powerful Republican congressman, runs the local district office where his constituents come for help.

The proximity of the two offices reflects Mr. Issa’s dual careers, a meshing of public and private interests rarely seen in government.

Most wealthy members of Congress push their financial activities to the side, with many even placing them in blind trusts to avoid appearances of conflicts of interest. But Mr. Issa (pronounced EYE-suh), one of Washington’s richest lawmakers, may be alone in the hands-on role he has played in overseeing a remarkable array of outside business interests since his election in 2000.

Even as he has built a reputation as a forceful Congressional advocate for business, Mr. Issa has bought up office buildings, split a holding company into separate multimillion-dollar businesses, started an insurance company, traded hundreds of millions of dollars in securities, invested in overseas funds, retained an interest in his auto-alarm company and built up a family foundation.

As his private wealth and public power have grown, so too has the overlap between his private and business lives, with at least some of the congressman’s government actions helping to make a rich man even richer and raising the potential for conflicts.

He has secured millions of dollars in Congressional earmarks for road work and public works projects that promise improved traffic and other benefits to the many commercial properties he owns here north of San Diego. In one case, more than $800,000 in earmarks he arranged will help widen a busy thoroughfare in front of a medical plaza he bought for $10.3 million.

His constituents cheer the prospect of easing traffic. At the same time, the value of the medical complex and other properties has soared, at least in part because of the government-sponsored road work.

But beyond specific actions that appear to have clearly benefited his businesses, Mr. Issa’s interests are so varied that some of the biggest issues making their way through Congress affect him in some way.

After the forced sale of Merrill Lynch in 2008, for instance, he publicly attacked the Treasury Department’s handling of the deal without mentioning that Merrill had handled hundreds of millions of dollars in investments for him and lent him many millions more.

And in an era when the auto industry’s future has been a big theme of public policy, Mr. Issa has been outspoken on regulatory issues affecting car companies, while maintaining deep ties to the industry through the auto electronics company he founded, DEI Holdings.

He has a seat on its board, and his nonprofit family foundation, which seeks to encourage values like “hard work and selfless philanthropy,” has earned millions from stock in DEI, which bears his initials. Mr. Issa’s fortune, in fact, was built on his car alarm company, and to this day it is his deep voice on Viper alarms that warns potential burglars to “please step away from the car.”

In recent months, The New York Times has examined how some lawmakers have championed particular industries, pushing measures to protect and enrich supporters. In Mr. Issa’s case, it is sometimes difficult to separate the business of Congress from the business of Darrell Issa.

Mr. Issa, 57, did not respond to repeated written requests in the last three weeks to discuss his outside interests. In the past, he has said his business background has made him a better lawmaker. In at least one Congressional matter, however, he recused himself after being advised of a potential conflict.

But perhaps his clearest statement on the issue came last year amid Toyota’s recalls of millions of automobiles with dangerous acceleration problems. Then, Mr. Issa brushed aside suggestions that his electronics company’s role as a major supplier of alarms to Toyota made him go easy on the automaker as he led an investigation into the recalls.

“If anything,” the congressman said, “Toyota probably got a harder time by having an automobile supplier sitting up there on the dais saying ‘Hold it, I’m not letting you off the hook now.’ ”

A Powerful Gadfly

As the influential chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Mr. Issa has proven both a reliable friend to business and a constant annoyance to an Obama administration that he sees as anti-business. Even before formally taking over the committee in December, he made headlines by asking 150 businesses and trade groups to identify regulations that they considered overly burdensome, and he has issued numerous subpoenas on his own authority in investigating programs he believes are harmful.

His pro-business policies usually align closely with those of the firms he has worked with in his wide-ranging business career both before and after he joined Congress. Congress has historically had more than its share of millionaires from storied American fortunes, from the Rockefellers to the Kennedys. But typically, those members lower their business profiles considerably and limit their active dealings to avoid potential conflicts of interest and the political repercussions that might follow from private business decisions.
Sandy Huffaker for The New York Times

A busy medical complex owned by Mr. Issa's management company benefited from a road project financed with earmarks he obtained.

Senator John D. Rockfeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia, for one, has much of his money in blind trusts, run by outside trustees. And Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, has a number of family and marital trusts for money generated largely through the fortune of his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry.

Mr. Issa, who grew up in a hardscrabble neighborhood near Cleveland and now owns homes north of San Diego and in Washington, has assets totaling as much as $725 million, outstripping by some measures even Mr. Rockefeller and Mr. Kerry. (Because lawmakers must disclose their assets only within broad dollar ranges, public reports do not allow for precise figures.)

According to his filings, Mr. Issa’s minimum wealth doubled in the last year, and he appears flush with cash: he bought dozens of mutual funds in 2010 worth as much as $80 million, managed by Wall Street powerhouses, without selling off any securities.

Mr. Issa’s transactions cover many pages in his annual disclosure reports, as he has traded huge volumes of stock funds and municipal bonds on a weekly or even daily basis. In 2008 alone, he traded some 360 securities totaling between $650 million and $2 billion.

Those investments have often produced sharp profits.

In one 2008 sale, months before the stock market crashed, his family foundation earned $357,000 on an initial investment of less than $19,000 — a return of nearly 1,900 percent in just seven months, the foundation reported to the Internal Revenue Service. It reported acquiring the security, then known as AIM International Small Company Fund, at a cost basis representing a tiny fraction of the market value.

In addition, Mr. Issa sold at least $1 million in personal holdings in the same fund that year but was not required to report what he paid.

Invesco, as the AIM fund’s manager is now known, told The Times it did not provide Mr. Issa’s foundation the steep discount. That suggests the foundation may have acquired the shares from a third-party broker.

A former government official said House ethics committee officials quietly inquired into Mr. Issa’s business interests last year because of possible conflicts in his electronics connections.

While the exact focus of those inquiries is not known, Mr. Issa’s ties to the industry are well established: in each of his first five years in Congress, he reported accepting free trips to Las Vegas from the Consumer Electronics Association for its annual convention. Such corporate-sponsored trips were allowed at the time, but Congressional rules have tightened since.

The inquiries did not produce sufficient evidence of ethics problems to move forward, the former official said.

Standards for determining a financial conflict are murky. House members are generally restricted from using their positions “for personal gain” or on matters in which they have a direct financial interest. But a 2009 ethics committee ruling added to the ambiguity, finding there is no prohibition on the mere “appearance” of a conflict.

There are also restrictions on taking salaries from certain businesses. While Mr. Issa’s wife draws a salary at their property management company, Mr. Issa — the firm’s president — does not.

A Balancing Act

Lawmakers must also avoid outside work that can pose a “time conflict,” and “detract from a member’s full time and attention to his official duties,” the guidelines say. By all accounts, these rules were designed to promote the notion of a full-time legislature.

Mr. Issa’s outside interests certainly appear to have kept him busy. Associates describe him as actively involved in business decisions, particularly in his auto electronics firm. His office did not discuss how he balances the time demands of Congress and his outside businesses. His management company, Greene Properties, which he runs with his wife from the office down the hall from his Congressional office in Vista, has acquired more than two dozen properties in the last five years, valued at up to a total of $80 million.

In nearby Carlsbad, a new office complex he owns advertises for prospective tenants. A few miles away, a Hooters restaurant rents space in another building he owns. Nearby, his medical complex bustles with doctors and patients and has few vacancies.

“Issa’s a smart businessman,” said Dean Tilton, a local real estate broker. “We haven’t seen real estate prices this low in 20 years, and he’s taking advantage of that.”

The hard-hit San Diego area has also benefited from federal money Mr. Issa brought through earmarks, which allow lawmakers to award money for their own pet projects. Indeed, more than two dozen of Mr. Issa’s properties are within five miles of projects he has personally earmarked for road work, sanitation and other improvements, an analysis by The Times shows.

His medical complex, for instance, sits directly along West Vista Way, a busy corridor scheduled for widening with $815,000 in funds Mr. Issa earmarked. The congressman bought the complex in 2008, soon after securing the first of two earmarks for the two-mile project and unsuccessfully seeking millions more. The assessor’s office now values the complex at $16 million, a 60 percent appreciation.

Mr. Issa owns a number of commercial properties near the planned $171 million expansion of State Route 76. The project, intended to ease traffic for tens of thousands of commuters, was helped by $245,000 in his earmarks.

A regional transportation official said the earmarks supplemented state financing to move the projects along.

Local leaders say they are just grateful for the money, regardless of any suggestions locally in San Diego that Mr. Issa stands to benefit.

“I don’t really blame the guy,” said John Aguilera, a Vista city councilman. “As a politician, that’s his job to bring a slice of the pie back home, and as a businessman, he’s going to invest in the areas that he champions.”

Some ethics experts wonder, however, whether Mr. Issa’s business interests invite problems.

“The idea is you’re supposed to be a full-time congressman,” said Robert M. Stern, who runs the nonprofit Center for Governmental Studies in California. “There may not be a direct conflict of interest, but it creates an appearance that he is trying to influence a policy on issues where he has an investment.”

In 2009, as earmarks became a damaging symbol of Congressional abuse, Mr. Issa joined other lawmakers in pledging to discontinue them. And in recent weeks, he has attacked “the culture of government overspending” in pushing for deep cuts in the national debt.

Mr. Issa’s dual roles reach beyond earmarks.

At a House hearing in 2008 on a much-debated proposal to merge the satellite radio companies Sirius and XM, despite objections on competitive grounds, Mr. Issa praised the “viable combined market” the deal would create as he questioned Sirius’s chief executive and talked of opportunities for expansion.

What Mr. Issa did not mention was that his electronics firm was then in a lucrative partnership with Sirius to distribute its audio products.

While Mr. Issa sold off his controlling interest in DEI soon after he was elected, he remains a board member with a half-million shares in the firm held by his family trust. His management firm also receives $2 million a year for leasing DEI its Vista plant.

DEI’s partnership with Sirius, which continued after the merger, caused friction with competitors. In a lawsuit settled out of court, U.S. Electronics accused Sirius and DEI of freezing it out of the market through anticompetitive practices that relied on “a web of deception, threats and lies” aimed at “the enrichment of certain of its officers and directors.”

When a watchdog group, the Center for Public Integrity, asked Mr. Issa about his role in the merger, his office said the congressman’s participation in the House hearing posed no conflict because his founding of DEI was “public knowledge.” But after advice from House ethics lawyers, Mr. Issa avoided any votes on the issue afterward.

With its brand-name audio and electronics products, DEI caught the eye of an equity company, Charlesbank Capital, which bought the company in June for $305 million, or $4.45 a share — nearly three times the presale price. The premium promises a payday of at least $2 million for Mr. Issa’s foundation, which has already earned more than $10 million from sales of DEI stock. (Mr. Issa is now a defendant in a lawsuit brought by DEI shareholders; the suit claims the deal was structured to give him and other directors a “windfall not shared by other stockholders.”)

Ties to Merrill Lynch

The lines between Mr. Issa’s many interests have also become entangled in his frequent criticism of regulators and his frequent defense of Wall Street. At a series of hearings in 2009, Mr. Issa accused Treasury officials of a “cover-up” of their role in Bank of America’s $50 billion purchase of Merrill Lynch months earlier. Most pointedly, he accused Ben S. Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, of bullying Bank of America “behind closed doors” into buying Merrill Lynch at bargain rates and then lying about it.

“I for one,” Mr. Issa told the Fed chairman, “am looking at Main Street America, the stockholders who in some cases got less than they would have gotten through other means. This includes Chrysler, General Motors and, of course, Bank of America and Merrill Lynch.”

Mr. Issa did not mention his own extensive links to Merrill Lynch.

In a television interview days later, however, he said: “I bank at Merrill Lynch. I’m very well aware that every broker there, all the people who were stockholders, were furious that they were in fact being fire-saled to them.”

And Mr. Issa is no ordinary Merrill customer.

His transactions there have totaled more than a billion dollars in the last decade, records show. In the aftermath of the firm’s acquisition in September 2008, in fact, he bought and sold at least $206 million in Merrill Lynch mutual funds in the next 15 days, records show.

His ties to the bank deepened last year, records show, as Merrill Lynch gave him two “personal notes” for lines of credit worth at least $75 million.

Likewise, Mr. Issa has aggressively defended Goldman Sachs, another Wall Street giant.

When the Securities and Exchange Commission brought a major lawsuit charging Goldman with fraud last year, Mr. Issa fired back by opening an investigation. The timing of the lawsuit, he said, smacked of a “partisan political agenda” meant to help President Obama and bolster a bill overhauling financial regulations.

His charge drew nationwide attention, putting regulators on the defensive, but the S.E.C. inspector general later found “no evidence” of political meddling.

Mr. Issa came to Goldman’s defense again last month in a letter to regulators complaining about restrictions on financial firms. Broker dealers “such as Goldman Sachs” faced “a substantial reduction in leverage” because of excessive capital requirements, he wrote.

As with Merrill Lynch, Mr. Issa is keenly interested in Goldman’s performance.

A few weeks before opening his inquiry into the Goldman lawsuit, in fact, he bought another large batch of shares in one of the firm’s high-yield mutual funds, records show. By the end of the year, his stake in Goldman’s fund was worth as much as $25 million.


While Fighting to Block SEC Investigation of Goldman Sachs Issa Bought Goldman Sach Bonds

Excerpts from an article on posted by Lee Fang on June 29, 2011 and sourced from ThinkProgress

Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) raised hell last year to stop the federal government from investigating Goldman Sachs regarding allegations that the company defrauded investors. In April 2010, shortly after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced a civil suit against Goldman Sachs, Issa sent a letter to SEC Chairwoman Mary Schapiro demanding to know if there was “any sort of prearrangement, coordination, direction from, or advance notice” between the SEC and the Obama administration or congressional Democrats over the timing of the lawsuit.

Issa’s investigation of the SEC’s investigation into Goldman Sachs stole the headlines and reinforced Goldman Sach’s claim that they had done nothing wrong. Explaining his defense of Goldman Sachs, Issa said he was representing the views of ordinary Americans who are worried about the “growth of government and the growth of government wanting to become more complex, with more agencies and more control over our lives.”

However, recent personal finance disclosures reviewed by ThinkProgress paint a different picture of Issa’s motivations.  According to documents filed recently with the House Clerk, Issa went on a buying spree of high yield Goldman Sachs bonds at the same time he was running defense for the investment bank in Congress. From February to December of 2010, Issa bought 12 Goldman Sachs High Yield Fund Class A bonds, each worth up to $50,000 (view page 10 the disclosure here). Many of the bonds were purchased in the months after he filed his letter to the SEC. The $600,000 in new Goldman Sachs investments added to Issa’s already multimillion dollar stake in the company, valued from $5.1 to $15.5 million.

Issa has faced accusations that he has used his considerable political power to enrich himself.  Earlier this year, ThinkProgress revealed that Issa had requested nearly $1 million in earmark projects that would have benefitted real estate owned by Issa and his family.

Around the time Issa launched his defense of Goldman Sachs and Republicans at-large ramped up efforts to stop President Obama’s financial reforms, Goldman Sachs and other major investment banks shifted their campaign donations mostly to Republican candidates. (I wonder Why!)

Issa’s inquiry in defense of Goldman Sachs turned out to be completely bunk. In October, an Inspector General investigation found no wrongdoing by the SEC regarding Issa’s allegations. But for all the media attention Issa created with his request for an investigation into the SEC, he faced little to no blowback for being dead wrong. Meanwhile, a report this year authored by Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Carl Levin (D-MI) concluded that Goldman Sachs “misled clients and Congress about the firm’s bets on securities tied to the housing market.”  They are too big to fail?  They need to be broken up so they won't be too big any more!

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