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Entries in Rep. Darrell Issa (6)

Sunday
Jun022013

Rep. Issa Says Washington Directed IRS Targetting Out of Cincinnati

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The IRS agents in Cincinnati who were involved in the targeting of conservative groups were “being directly ordered from Washington,” Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said on Sunday, as he accused the White House of lying about the involvement of IRS headquarters officials in the scandal, calling White House Press Secretary Jay Carney a “paid liar.”

“The administration is still — their paid liar, their spokesperson, picture behind — he’s still making up things about what happens and calling this local rogue,” Issa said on CNN’s State of the Union. “The reason that Lois Lerner tried to take the Fifth [Amendment when called to testify before Congress] is not because there’s 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."

“The administration is still trying to say there’s a few rogue agents in Cincinnati, when in fact the indication is they were directly being ordered from Washington,” he said.

Investigators from two House committees — Oversight and Government Reform and Ways and Means — are questioning IRS workers from the Cincinnati office, and Issa said these interviews provide evidence that the orders stemmed from Washington.

“My gut tells me that too many people knew that this wrongdoing was going on before the election, and at least by some sort of convenient benign neglect allowed it to go on through the election, allowed these groups, these conservative groups, these, if you will, not friends of the president to be disenfranchised through an election,” he said. “Now, I’m not making any allegations as to motive, that they set out to do it. But certainly, people knew it was happening.”

Congress is scheduled to hold a series of hearings this week on the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups. On Monday, J. Russell George, the Treasury Department’s Inspector General, and IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel are expected to testify before a House Appropriations subcommittee on the progress the IRS is making in addressing the controversial practices that came to light last month. Representatives of conservative organizations that were targeted by the IRS are scheduled to appear Tuesday before the House Ways and Means committee.

On Thursday, the House Oversight Committee, which Issa chairs, has a hearing scheduled for questioning about excessive spending at IRS conferences. The hearing comes nearly a week after the release of a video showing IRS officials line dancing to the “Cupid Shuffle” at a 2010 agency conference in California.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr092012

New GSA Video Puts Agency in Issa’s Crosshairs

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee(WASHINGTON) -- The House committee on Oversight and Government Reform released yet another new video clip Monday from the U.S. General Services Administration’s big-spending conference in Las Vegas, extending the embarrassing episode for the agency and the Obama administration.

In the newly surfaced clip, which is titled “POTUS [President of the United States] Wants a Press Event,” employees sing a fast-tempo melody, “Are you ready for a miracle? GSA’s going green.”

At one point, a roomful of GSA employees holding a portrait of President Obama sings, “Martha and Bob to take the lead, you know they need us so, POTUS wants a press event, a project he can show.”

An administration official leaked videos from the conference Friday to the Huffington Post, but the committee says this previously unseen clip from the awards show was not included in that video dump.

When the clip, which features dozens of GSA employees, was played Oct. 28, 2010, at the “Capstone Dinner Event,” GSA convention organizer Jeffrey Neely remarks, “That was amazing, was there anybody in Region 7 who wasn’t in that thing?”

“If they didn’t work on Friday, then chances are they weren’t in the video,” answered another GSA representative named Karen, drawing laughter from the crowd.

The video clip is another black eye for the government agency, after multiple videos were uncovered in an inspector general’s investigation, drawing sharp criticism from the House’s top cop, Rep. Darrell Issa, the chairman of the committee, for wasting taxpayer money.

“This is not just about a single convention, but a festering culture of entitlement and wasting taxpayer money within the federal bureaucracy,” Issa, R-Calif., wrote in a statement. “Taxpayer’s time should be used for real work and not a high school musical like production on the Obama administration’s stimulus spending spree.

“Eleven months after the GSA inspector general briefed the Obama Administration on the facts about waste and wrongdoing, we are still looking for accountability and answers about delayed action that does not fully address the underlying problem.”

The House committee on Transportation and Infrastructure released new details last week from a report showing that GSA spent nearly $440,000 on “lavish gifts” such iPods and digital cameras for an incentive program for its employees.

The GSA was under fire a day earlier for a video featuring a U.S. General Services Administration employee joking about excess government spending.

Even before that video came to light, the agency was being criticized for spending about $823,000 on a Las Vegas convention in 2010 for 300 employees, which included thousands of dollars spent on items such as a commemorative coin set, a mind reader, a comedian and a clown.

GSA administrator Martha Johnson resigned abruptly after the GSA inspector general presented findings of abuse and waste of taxpayer dollars from the conference.

A review of budgets for the past four conferences conducted by Politico shows a pattern of increased spending for the conference before President Obama took office during the Bush administration, with costs climbing from $93,000 in 2004 to $323,855 in 2006 and soaring above $655,000 in 2008.

When Congress returns to Washington after the Easter recess, the House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management will convene a hearing April 19 to review the matter.

One Republican source close to the Oversight committee said Issa is working to schedule his own hearings into the matter, but plans have not been finalized. The source said the committee intends to investigate GSA spending from the previous administration and will ask for documentation “from the last several years.”

As he prepared to take over as chairman of the committee after the GOP’s landslide victory in 2010, Issa pledged to follow leads that began during the Bush administration. “I’m going to be investigating a president of my own party, because many of the issues we’re working on began [with] President Bush or even before, and haven’t been solved,” Issa told MSNBC after the election Nov. 3, 2010.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar012011

Issa Fires Spokesman In Wake Of Leaked Emails Scandal

House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA). Photo Courtesy - ABC News.(WASHINGTON) -- House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa fired his spokesman Kurt Bardella on Tuesday after Bardella leaked emails from reporters to a New York Times journalist working on a book on Washington.

On Monday evening, Politico reported that Bardella had supplied the New York Times' Mark Leibovich with emails that he had exchanged with reporters. Issa told Politico that he would investigate the matter. On Tuesday, he announced Bardella’s firing.

"While our review of allegations raised by Politico is not yet complete, it has become clear that the committee's Deputy Communications Director Kurt Bardella did share reporter e-mail correspondence with New York Times journalist Mark Leibovich for a book project," Issa said in a statement Tuesday. "Though limited, these actions were highly inappropriate, a basic breach of trust with the reporters it was his job to assist, and inconsistent with established communications office policies. As a consequence, his employment has been terminated."

Despite Issa's swift firing of Bardella, the scandal could prove damaging, since the congressman is the Republicans' chief watchdog, overseeing a committee that regularly handles high-profile Congressional investigations.

The book project stemmed from a Nov. 2010 request from Leibovich. Bardella's bosses granted the request, but sharing emails with reporters was never part of the plan, Issa noted.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan262011

Feisty Issa Spars with Committee Members in First Oversight Hearing

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- After Tuesday night’s show of civility across party lines at the State of the Union, Rep. Darrell Issa’s first Oversight Committee hearing on bailouts and the foreclosure crisis started with a bout over procedure.

At the start of the hearing, chairman Rep. Darrell Issa announced the committee members would waive their opening statements and instead would have seven days to place them into the record.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the committee’s ranking Democrat, immediately fought back questioning this deviation in traditional procedure, but Issa held his ground.

“I recognize that tradition is we hold the members, the witnesses here for sometimes an hour through opening statements.  That is a tradition that I intend to break,” Issa said.  “That doesn’t mean there won’t be opening statements in the future.”

Issa’s decision to omit opening statements at the hearing stems from his desire to hear from the witnesses, Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for TARP, and Tim Massad, a Treasury official, first instead of from the committee members.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich later interrupted and stated, “I’ve been in the Congress for 14 years, and I’ve never - it’s just unprecedented that the ranking member not be permitted to give an opening statement.”

Issa shot down Kucinich and continued to stop Rep. Stephen Lynch from voicing his opinion on the issue as well.

When Cummings and Kucinich were given their opportunities to question the witnesses, they went after Issa for not inviting members of the industry to testify at the hearing.

“Mr. Chairman, We cannot do a comprehensive examination of the foreclosure crisis without hearing from the industry,” Cummings said.

Issa insisted he intended this hearing to focus only on government officials and that a later hearing including industry witnesses would occur.

Issa started the hearing by asking that people excuse him for any mistakes he might make in the first hearing, but despite this mea culpa, it’s apparent that some members are unhappy with the break in tradition. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov122010

Democrats' Fear of Issa Could Spell House Oversight Panel Shake-Up

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A growing number of House Democrats do not want Rep. Ed Towns, D-N.Y., to retain the party's top post on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee when Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., takes over the panel's reins in January, ABC News has learned.

Towns' critics believe that Democrats will need a stronger presence representing them in what likely will be numerous fights with the GOP's rising star, Issa, as the lower chamber's top investigative committee falls into Republican hands this winter, two Congressional sources familiar with the panel told ABC News.

"I think a lot of people in our party are thinking it's a good idea to look beyond Towns for ranking member," said a senior Democratic aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Over the last two years, with Towns chairing the panel and Issa serving as the ranking Republican, Issa "ran roughshod" over the New York lawmaker, the other source said.

In addition to fears among House Democrats, the White House also has concerns about Towns leading the party's fight against Issa, the source said.

But that notion was shot down by a spokesman for the Obama administration. The White House spokesman said the White House has "a productive working relationship" with Towns and officials "fully expect that to continue."

Even though the wheels are in motion to push Towns out, doing so will not be easy. If Towns, an African-American, were to lose the top Democratic spot on the panel, that could cause unrest among members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Out of the possible likely replacements for Towns -- Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y.; Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md.; and Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio -- only Cummings is African-American.

Further complicating matters is another internal Democratic fight, as Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., the most powerful African-American in Congress, duel for the party's number-two leadership spot.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 

Monday
Nov082010

Rep. Darrell Issa: Obama Not 'Personally Corrupt'

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- During the recent campaign, Republican Congressman Darrell Issa -- the incoming chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee -- told Rush Limbaugh that Obama is “one of the most corrupt Presidents in modern times.”

Monday, he took it back.

When Issa was pressed by ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America, the congressman said that he “tried never to make it a personal statement about the president…I am not saying that the President is personally corrupt.  But his administration has to change direction particularly after tax payer money.”

Top of Issa’s list -- figuring out what happened to the $700 billion in stimulus spending.

“That $700 billion is gone, we have to figure out, one, where it went and two, how to keep it from going away that way again.  The American people cannot afford that,” he said.

Issa also rejected any temporary extension of the Bush tax cuts for wealthy.

“If anything this is wrong minded. In some ways you should say, ‘Look, if you invest today we will let you get a better deal three, four, five years from now because that is how you create jobs,’” he said. “Hopefully we will come to a compromise that does allow people to make decisions beyond just this tax year.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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