Darryl Issa, a California Congressman, made his fortune manufacturing car alarms and used his wealth to fund the recall of California Governor Gray Davis, who was succeeded by Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Issa reportedly intended to place himself on the ballot before Schwarzenegger jumped in.)
As chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Darryl Issa has called President Obama “one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times.” He declared he would hold “hundreds of hearings” to uncover wrongdoing in the Obama Administration. But, as Alex Seitz–Walddetails, Issa “often ended up shooting blanks.”
His investigations into WikiLeaks, Fannie and Freddie, the FDA, and countless others have failed to expose any massive wrongdoing by the administration and after a year and half, he has little to show for them. . . .
Other investigations bordered on fringe absurdism, like when he asked the Department of Justice to investigate ACORN more than a year after it went extinct. There was also the hearing he held probing the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, which famously included a panel featuring zero women.
But earlier this week, as Seitz-Wald reports, Issa “finally got his big trophy and moment in the cable news sun today when his committee voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, following nearly seven hours of testimony on the ATF’s botched “Fast and Furious” gun scandal.”
Meteor Blades at Daily Kos has the background:
The issue that spurred the committee’s vote is Holder’s unwillingness to release documents and internal communications at the Department of Justice regarding the operation known as “Fast and Furious.” That operation, run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowed guns bought in the United States to cross into Mexico. The idea was to nail straw purchasers of weapons in United States and also high-level members of Mexican drug gangs that obtained the weapons.
According to the 2011 report Fueling Cartel Violence prepared for Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), hundreds of firearms made their way into the arsenals of three of the largest drug cartels: Sinaloa, El Teo and La Familia.
Mexican authorities have claimed that as many as 150 people have been killed by these firearms in an ongoing war that has taken the lives of more than 50,000 people since 2006. Some 2,000-plus firearms are said to have made their way into Mexico as a result of “Fast and Furious.” A U.S. Border Patrol agent, Brian Terry, was also killed with one of the weapons, an AK47-style firearm. Among the weapons allowed to leave the states were .50 caliber sniper rifles that may have made the difference in battles between cartel members and Mexican police.
As Jeremy Leaming at American Constitution Societyexplains:
U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) told The Times the administration was forced into invoking privilege because of the Issa-led committee’s “unreasonable insistence on pressing forward with contempt despite the attorney general’s good faith offer.”
The Department of Justice has provided Issa’s committee nearly 8,000 documents for the congressional investigation into the tactics used in the federal government’s efforts to stop violence related to drug smuggling along the southern border.
But Issa and other Republican members on the committee have feigned disbelief, arguing that much more is needed to complete their work.
I’m not particularly comfortable defending this — or any — Administration’s invocation of executive privilege but Issa’s relentless pursuit of the president, culminating in this investigation of a trumped-up scandal is nothing more than cynical political theater.
As Kevin Drum notes, this is a “fairly ridiculous invented controversy that Republicans care about only because (a) it involves guns, and (b) it involves the Obama administration.” Indeed, Issa “more or less admitted the fever swamp origins of tea party outrage over Fast & Furious when he told Sean Hannity that Obama was using the program to ‘somehow take away or limit people’s Second Amendment rights.” This mad notion was seconded by Newt Gingrich on on CNBC last night. According to Steve Benen, Gingrich “argued, with a straight face, that the so-called “Fast and Furious” controversy was part of an elaborate ploy to enact gun control.”
Crazy, right? “And yet,” as Benen sums it up, “this nuttiness has been fully embraced by many House Republicans, many Senate Republicans, Fox News, Newt Gingrich, the NRA, and some deeply strange folks on far-right blogs and talk radio. To put it mildly, it’s disconcerting.”
With the contempt citation going to the full House next week, you can take action by calling (202-224-3121) or emailing your representatives and urging them to oppose this politically motivated witch hunt.
Fair and Unbalanced
Posted: Sunday, 24 June 2012