All the predictions had Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the chairman-in-waiting of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, embarking on a partisan subpoena spree, dredging up various conservatives’ pet issues to take shots at the Obama administration.
But in making the media rounds over the past week as part of an apparent charm offensive, Issa insisted over and over again that he’ll take a more middle-of-the-road approach.
Contradicting his own pre-election statments, Issa told “Good Morning America” this morning that Obama is not “personally corrupt,” walking back an earlier statement to Rush Limbaugh that Obama is “one of the most corrupt Presidents in modern times.”
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And though Issa once said the job offer the Obama administration reportedly promised Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) if he dropped out of the Democratic Senate primary against Sen. Arlen Specter could be an “impeachable” offense and called it “Obama’s Watergate,” he’s now ready to drop the issue, Roll Call reports. Issa spokesman Kurt Bardella told the newspaper that such an investigation might be seen as “a partisan witch hunt.” Similar events took place during the George W. Bush administration, Issa told “Fox News Sunday” this week. “People in the Bush administration, W. Bush, said they did the same thing,” Issa said. “I think we have to bring that to an end, and I’m going to look for ways to expose it and bring it to an end.”
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A spokesman told TPMMuckraker that the Issa’s statements about his plans were consistent with what the Congressman has been saying for awhile.
“We’ve been saying pretty consistently for the last couple months that our goal is going to be to live up to the mandate of that American people — smaller government, limited government, more accountable to transparency in government,” Bardella told TPMMuckraker. They will focus on “things that we’ve talked about for awhile now that we’re in a position to move the ball forward on now and we’re going to.”
The Sestak matter “was never a Darrell Issa investigation — we didn’t depose anyone, we didn’t have hearings,” Bardella added. “This was a situation where frankly Joe Sestak went on TV, told many people in many interviews that he was offered a job, the White House press corps asked Robert Gibbs about it and he just didn’t have an answer for a couple weeks, and then finally the whole Bill Clinton thing. This was a situation where the White House frankly screwed up the public relations surrounding this, and that’s that.”
Appearing on Bill Maher’s show on Friday, Issa also lamented the decline of journalism after Maher brought up how quickly the made-up costs of President Barack Obama’s trip to India spread throughout the conservative media and up to members of Congress.
“One of the biggest challenges we’re facing is a decline in responsible journalism — journalism where if they make a mistake, they have to print an apology so to speak,” Issa said. “That’s going away, and it’s hurting us.”
He added that the Minerals Management Service, which has come under fire for its role in the Deepwater Horizon disaster and for a variety of sex and oil scandals, was a “dysfunctional organization” that was “too cozy” with oil companies and in need of reform.
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Issa also plans to meet with Vice President Joe Biden to discuss potential collaborative efforts, Politico reported. “There’s a mutual goal of wanting transparency in stimulus dollars,” Issa spokesman Bardella said. (Barella told TPMMuckraker he suspects the meeting probably wouldn’t happen until the lame-duck session.)
Issa previously said that he’ll be investigating the money that went to the community organizing group ACORN — but recently stressed that jobs should be the most important thing on the GOP’s plate in January. He’s still on board with investigating ACORN, Issa told GMA this morning.
Issa’s spokesman has pushed back at charges from Democrats that Issa will engage in a politically motivated subpoena spree. “Despite what some Democrats say - the notion that we’re prepared to embark on an epic subpoena-led politically-motivated investigatory effort is just wrong and nothing Issa has said even hints at that,” Bardella told TPMMuckraker in September.
Issues that are on the Committee’s agenda include the FDA’s effectiveness, Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s roles in the sub-prime crisis, health care reform (not repeal, but the implementation of it), data transparency and postal reform, Bardella said at the time.