CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) has exposed the hypocrisy of Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) who, while incoming chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent letters to more than 150 corporations asking these citizens (remember, the Supreme Court says corporations are people now too) what regulations they would like to see rolled back as hampering job growth.
It should be mentioned here that in his pre-elected official days Issa was a CEO of Directed Electronics, the Vista, a California-based manufacturer of automobile security and convenience products. In other words, he was one of those people he sent letters to.
He is also a very rich man, in fact, the richest man in Congress, personally worth over $250 million. You know the type by now – part of Republicorp’s corporate-owned America. To turn the language of his GOP against him, he is not one of us. He is one of them – part of the corporate America the GOP and the Supreme Court have sold America to for thirty pieces of silver.
And at a time when America is becoming more diverse and more tolerant generally of this diversity, Issa is a throwback to the Gilded Age in more ways than one, as evidenced by his voting record, which is anti-civil rights, anti-gay rights, and anti-affirmative action. Because I know those millionaire corporate-types are the first folks I’d trust to tell me what’s good for the economy – the people who stand to make the most money off eliminating federal regulations and taxes and workers rights. Yep, definitely the “go-to” people, and Issa, looking for any excuse he can to sell America to the corporations, went right to them.
Of course (and here is where the hypocrisy comes in), Issa also played your typical Republican lip service to transparency, that thing that only became all the rage when Barack Obama ran on a platform of improved government transparency following the top-secret days of the we’re-not-telling-you-what-we’re-doing Bush administration. CREW, taking Issa at his word, did the obvious thing and asked Issa to make the responses to those letters public; after all, he did promise transparency. So put your money where your mouth is, Mr. Issa! CREW’s letters to Mr. Issa:
Issa, predictably, ignored that call. Apparently, just saying he’d sent the letters was transparency enough for Mr. Issa. After all this badgering he finally promised to release the information on February 11th, prompting a public statement from Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director on January 24th:
Chairman Issa’s letter to Rep. Cummings is at odds with his much-professed commitment to transparency and accountability. By releasing his own analysis of the letters at the same time he releases the letters themselves, Chairman Issa is giving himself plenty of time to craft and then control the message of the letters. Neither Rep. Cummings nor anyone else will have the time to consider and draft any potentially competing analysis the day the letters are revealed. By the time anyone else has the chance to review and analyze the responses, they may be old news and likely won’t generate nearly the same level of media attention. This hardly qualifies as the much ballyhooed transparency the chairman promised. As CREW has stated in two letters to Chairman Issa, the committee should post on its website the letters already received immediately and should post any future responses as they come in. Americans can then analyze the letters right along with the committee in real time.”
Finally, on February 7th, Mr. Issa released some responses in an almost 2,000 page pdf which, as CREW points out, “wasn’t searchable and wasn’t complete.” It also made no mention of two letters that CREW had turned up as part of its investigation – letters to Duke Energy and to the Edison Electric Institute. CREW has revealed that “Representatives from both companies confirmed…that they had sent letters to Chairman Issa, but refused to release them publicly.”
It is a strange species of transparency that Mr. Issa demonstrates. It seems rather…opaque.
CREW has now helpfully posted a searchable version of the letters “to make them more accessible.” Republicans haven’t quite grasped the concept of transparency beyond that it is a word that exists, so it is good to have a group like CREW to sort of prod them along – helpfully, of course.
The Republicans made a big deal about winning in 2010, even if their victory was not quite as complete as they like to pretend, and they have made big promises. So far, they have lived up to none of them beyond trying to roll back healthcare reform and attack abortion by defining the crime of rape out of existence. Mr. Issa, like his colleagues, painted himself into a corner and it is important that we allow neither him personally nor any of his colleagues to redefine their promises out of existence along with healthcare and rape.
Mr. Issa’s Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has scheduled a one-hour hearing for 9:30 a.m. on February 10th titled “Regulatory Impediments to Job Creation” – a tendentious title which surely gives the game away: big business does not like regulation and therefore regulation must go. Nothing must stand in the way of profit.
Keep track of Mr. Issa. For HD videos of Oversight Committee hearings, presented in partnership with YouTube, go to at http://www.youtube.com/HouseResourceOrg. Darrell Issa’s Voting Record at Project Vote Smart and also see Darrell Issa OnThe Issues