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January 18, 2011

GETTING TO KNOW DARRELL ISSA.... The new chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is, of course, Rep. Darrell Issa, a far-right California Republican. As we've seen in recent months, Issa is set to make quite a name for himself -- he's accused President Obama of being "one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times"; he's asked business leaders to set his regulatory agenda for him; and he's signaled an interest in launching a series of White House witch-hunts.

But before we get annoyed by where Issa's going, it's worth pausing to appreciate where he's been. In a fascinating piece for the New Yorker, Ryan Lizza takes a close look at Issa's rise to great wealth and political power and some of the "troubles" the right-wing congressman has had along the way.

Many politicians have committed indiscretions in earlier years: maybe they had an affair or hired an illegal immigrant as a nanny. Issa, it turned out, had, among other things, been indicted for stealing a car, arrested for carrying a concealed weapon, and accused by former associates of burning down a building.

Yes, the man House Republicans have tasked with investigating potential White House wrongdoing spent a fair amount of his adult life as an apparent criminal.

Lizza's story is worth reading in its entirety -- it's a long one, which is tough to excerpt -- but we're talking about a guy with one run-in with the law after another, including arrests and indictments. There are also many suspected crimes -- he's accused of deliberately burning down a building and threatening a former employee with a gun -- which did not lead to formal charges, but which nevertheless cast the congressman in a less-than-flattering light.

There was also an incident in which Issa crashed into a woman who needed to be hospitalized, driving away before the police could arrive because, as he told the person he hit, he didn't have time to wait. Issa didn't face charges, but he was sued over the matter, and agreed to an out-of-court settlement.

And in case that weren't quite enough, the article also notes instances in which Issa appears tohave lied about his background. The congressman, for example, claimed to receive the "highest possible" ratings during his Army career, despite the fact that at one point he "received unsatisfactory conduct and efficiency ratings and was transferred to a supply depot." Issa also claimed to have provided security for President Nixon in 1971, which wasn't true, and a national Entrepreneur of the Year award Issa claimed to have won, but didn't.

Issa has twice sought statewide office in California, but his scandalous past derailed both bids.

That past, apparently, does not bother House Republicans, who recently handed Issa broad oversight authority and subpoena power.

Steve Benen 10:45 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (29)

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Comments

Nothing says IOIYAR like Issa.

Posted by: Maude on January 18, 2011 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

I fail to see what the youthful indiscretions of Issa have to do with his tasks of investigating the corruption and illegalities of the Obama White House!

Besides that, every knowledgeable person understands you are innocent if you are not convicted or if you get your convictions overturned in a higher court. Unless you are a democrat and then you are guilty until proven innocent; in which case you are guilty anyhow.

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on January 18, 2011 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Having Issa investigating anything is a lame joke. Why don't the Repugs just let "Diaper" Dave Vitter and Larry "Wide Stance" Craig co-sponsor a bill titled the Marriage Protection Amendment while they're at it?

Oh wait . . . . http://thinkprogress.org/2008/06/27/sens-craig-and-vitter-team-up-to-co-sponsor-marriage-protection-amendment/

Posted by: krazeeinjun on January 18, 2011 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

By "Highest Possible" rating, he meant the highest possible he could achieve, not the highest rating the army bestows.

Some people would look at his long record as valuable outside-the-beltway experience. I mean, sure, any republican can boast about their white collar crime, closeted homosexuality and adultery...But an honest-to-god felon? That's hard to beat!

Posted by: bignose on January 18, 2011 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

Issa also engineered the recall of California governor Gray Davis in 2003 that ultimately opened the door for Arnold Schwarzenegger to run for governor and then run the state into the ground. So yeah, this guy has quite a record of distinction.

Posted by: jonas on January 18, 2011 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

...and Bill Maher has him on as a fairly regular guest. He's smarmy and handles himself well on camera. I really like Bill Maher, but I wish he'd stop giving this creep air time. People watch the show and think, "He's not so bad...." Well he is that bad.

Posted by: SaintZak on January 18, 2011 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

A felon in the GOP? I'm shocked!

Nonetheless how better to understand what constitutes most of his colleagues than one with an already astute criminal mind...
Nauseating....

Posted by: stevio on January 18, 2011 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

All those accusations, but never actually convicted of wrongdoing. I guess he just has a bad habit of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Or maybe just bad luck - I mean, some guys just can't catch a break. Who HASN'T been falsely accused of burning down a building at least once?

Posted by: Basilisc on January 18, 2011 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

Issa is a reliable, obedient, bought-and-paid-for corporate stooge, and that's all that matters.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 18, 2011 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

This illustrates the basic problem: our electoral system somehow produces deeply stupid, corrupt elected officials. So, we get deeply stupid, corrupt government.

Posted by: PB on January 18, 2011 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

All is forgiven to he who runs a business. It's the GOP answer to the benefit of clergy.

He's the perfect poster boy for a political party whose idea of the legitimate use of state power pretty much stops at providing their getaway cars with a police escort.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on January 18, 2011 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Sounds like a con-man.

Posted by: Kill Bill on January 18, 2011 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

SaintZak My sentiments about Maher too. I realize he has trouble attracting conservatives, but puleeze no more Issa. You know he is just in it for the ratings too. Issa= controversy = eyeballs . I often wonder what goes on in the preshow. OK Issa you take such and such a position and say a bunch of outrageous shit. Liberal panel you respond with.... Now that's entertainment.

Posted by: John R on January 18, 2011 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

This illustrates the basic problem: our electoral system somehow produces deeply stupid, corrupt elected officials. So, we get deeply stupid, corrupt government.

Issa's district in nothern San Diego County is far far right - the electorate is mostly retired Marines and Mormons. 'Nuff said?

Yes, I know, one would think that those two groups, who claim to hold personal integrity very important, would be "off-put" by a slimeball like Issa, but he knows how to push their buttons.

Posted by: TCinLA on January 18, 2011 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

The fact that a man with a past as checkered as Issa's can get elected to the House is not that surprising. Voters can be remarkably willing to overlook such failings if someone supports their agenda and prejudices.

however, the fact that the Republican party has chosen this man subpoena power as the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is ridiculous. The fact that his stated intention to conduct massive investigations of the Obama White House has not drawn any press attention to the scandalous hypocrisy of the Republican party (i.e. hundreds of subpoena's to the Clinton administration in 1994-2000, 3 to the Bush administration in 2001-2006) is disgusting.

Posted by: tanstaafl on January 18, 2011 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

Darrell Issa - transcendent he is not! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on January 18, 2011 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Well his past does explain why he is so angry with government: it keeps trying to get him to play by the same rules as the rest of us, but he manages to evade the consequences of his irresponsible and apparently illegal actions. (E.g., leaving the scene of accident involving bodily injury is a crime.)BUt as many have observed, this is SOP for Rethugs.

Posted by: robert on January 18, 2011 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

For Republicans it's all about what you can get away with.

Posted by: cld on January 18, 2011 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Issa = Self absorbed douchebag (full of douchey goodness!)

..the asshole meter exploded while measurements were being taken.

Posted by: Trollop on January 18, 2011 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

"It takes a thief to catch a thief." That right out of the bible. Or is it the Constitution?

Posted by: hells littlest angel on January 18, 2011 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

If the accusations of arson are true, then we can insurance fraud to his list of crimes because he collected on the fire.

Posted by: Heraclitus on January 18, 2011 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

I live in his district, and it's a very safe one for the GOP. The Republicans could run the corpse of Ted Bundy and he would beat any living Democrat.

Posted by: Speed on January 18, 2011 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

It says something about shamelessness of the modern Republican party that having the phrases 'he's accused President Obama of being "one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times"' and 'he's asked business leaders to set his regulatory agenda for him' right next to each other doesn't seem even slightly surprising.

Posted by: Redshift on January 18, 2011 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Much as I'm not a fan of Issa, I DO have to point out that "accused by former associates" has no place whatsoever in a legitimate news story, unless it can be verified. And the verification should be included in the story.

Isn't that Journalism 101???

Posted by: JEA on January 18, 2011 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

As a California native I know Issa is a creep; that's nothing new. I was actually shocked that he got elected in San Diego. However I am shocked, shocked, that the Republicans seem unable to read or keep current on their members. That man is not a very good person, but he seems to have lots of bucks. I guess that qualifies him for high position in some people's minds. Apparently it matters very little how he got those big bucks, especially if that person is a "conservative."

Big bucks didn't really help John Edwards but he was a lightweight compared to Issa. Our country seems so moral about sexual matters, but doesn't mind sweeping criminality under the rug. Go figure.

Posted by: Gracious on January 18, 2011 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Favorite Darrell Issa moment: His tearful announcement that he was withdrawing from the special California gubernatorial race to replace the recalled Governor Gray Davis. It was Issa's financial support of a signature-gathering campaign that qualified the recall for the ballot, but when Schwarzenegger entered the race, Issa's chance at the governorship was doomed. Boo-frickin-hoo.

Posted by: josef on January 18, 2011 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's great that he's a cat thief who made his money selling car alarms

Posted by: Roberta on January 18, 2011 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

Oops typo before. I think it's great that Issa is a car thief who made his money selling car alarms

Posted by: Roberta on January 18, 2011 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

Can't wait for all the sternly worded letters and ignored subpoenas. Popcorn?

Posted by: Marko on January 18, 2011 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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