Following an investigation that led the House of Representatives to find Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) has set his sights on other members of President Barack Obama’s cabinet — sending all of them a letter asking whether government resources were used when they spoke in front of pro-Obama “super PACs.”
One problem: according to recent reports, none of them have made any such appearances. In fact, the pro-Obama “super PAC” known as Priorities USA Action has only had a single member of the Obama administration — senior adviser David Plouffe — appear at an event.
Issa’s July 12 letter states that the House Oversight Committee is “investigating the frequency with which Cabinet Secretaries appear at super PAC events and whether government funds have been used for travel to and from these events.”
It cited “[r]ecent media reports indicate that Cabinet Secretaries are actively involved in fundraising for super PACs,” mentioning a Daily Beast story from May as well as Politico stories from February and June. None of the stories cited actually contain any information about cabinet members actually fundraising on behalf of the super PAC. The February Politico story referenced by Issa is based on an iWatch report listing four cabinet members who reportedly expressed a willingness to help a super PACs (a loose commitment they evidently never followed up on).
Additionally, Roll Call reported last week that Plouffe was the only member of the administration who went to a fundraiser for Priorities USA, while an extensive New York Times magazine piece on the “super PAC” made no mention of any fundraisers attended by members of the cabinet.
In an email to TPM, Issa spokeswoman Becca Glover Watkins said the committee was aware of the Roll Call report when they sent the letter.
“Concerns and questions about the use of taxpayer funds supporting political travel have persisted through multiple administrations,” Watkins said in a statement. “Rather than implementing meaningful changes to put these questions to rest, the current administration’s actions have only enhanced concerns about abuses of taxpayer funds to further campaign interests. If the Obama Administration truly has nothing to hide then they should have no difficulty promptly providing all requested information.”
Issa’s previous criticism of an Office of Special Counsel investigation which found that the George W. Bush administration dispatched cabinet members for political purposes during the 2006 elections, may undercut his current campaign. Issa said he had “substantial concern that the [OSC’s] good-government mission is being tainted by improper political agendas.”