House Oversight Committee

Questionable Ethics In Issa'a Zeal to Score Political Points

Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) has been targeting the Obama administration since his earliest days as chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and recently he’s been waging a political witch hunt against Attorney General Eric Holder surrounding the Fast and Furious gunrunning operation. In the course of the investigation, Rep. Issa requested documents which the AG was prohibited by law from releasing, and for that, Rep. Issa successfully campaigned to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.

Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed an ethics complaint with both the Office of Congressional Ethics and the Department of Justice, alleging that in his zeal to embarrass the Obama Administration, Rep. Issa may in fact have violated House ethics rules as well as federal wiretap laws.

According to CREW:

Rather than releasing the warrant application to the media directly, which would clearly have been prosecutable, Rep. Issa inserted the information into the Congressional Record. This way, he shielded his otherwise illegal conduct behind the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution. Evidence also suggests Rep. Issa or his staff may have directed reporters to the Congressional Record to ensure the information contained in the leaked warrant application was discovered and further publicized. Such actions, which could constitute “republication” of the material, might not be subject to the same constitutional protections.

CREW also argues that there is precedent for holding Rep. Issa accountable for his potential violation of the wiretap statute, and that a refusal to do so would bring even more discredit to the House leadership than Rep. Issa’s botched and politically-motivated Fast and Furious investigation already has.

PFAW

PFAW Condemns Partisan Witch Hunt Against Holder

This afternoon, the Republican led House of Representatives approved a contempt citation against Attorney General Eric Holder as part of the GOP’s ongoing attacks against the Attorney General and his office.

People For the American Way President Michael Keegan issued the following statement.

“It’s been clear since day one of the Obama Administration that Republicans have chosen to put politics above principle in their efforts to attack the President at every turn, regardless of the facts or the needs of the American people. This move is no different. Attorney General Holder has been completely forthcoming about the problems in the Fast and Furious program, but that’s never been the issue. Instead Republicans are still looking for any excuse to tarnish this President.

“The more time Attorney General Holder is forced to spend on this manufactured crisis, the less time he and his team have to address the real challenges our country faces, including his efforts challenging restrictive voter suppression programs. Given Republicans’ eagerness to attack the Obama Administration at any cost, Eric Holder should wear today’s vote as a badge of honor. Clearly, he’s doing something right.”

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PFAW Condemns House Oversight Committee’s Political Witch Hunt

WASHINGTON – People For the American Way issued the following statement following the party line vote by the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee engineered by Committee Chair Darrell Issa (R-CA) to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. The Committee acted despite the Attorney General’s extensive efforts over the past several months to provide the Committee with the information it needed to conduct its investigation into Operation Fast and Furious.

“This is nothing more than a political witch hunt, perhaps best exemplified by the announcement of the NRA – which bizarrely sees the ‘Fast and Furious’ program as an effort to justify domestic gun control laws – that it would ‘score’ this contempt vote.” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “To be sure, Congress has a legitimate interest in investigating Operation Fast and Furious, but Chairman Issa and Republican majority on the Committee appear to be more interested in scoring political points than in getting to the bottom of what happened.

“The hoops the Committee is demanding the Attorney General jump through illustrate that these contempt hearings are as partisan as they are extreme. Over the course of this ‘investigation,’ the Committee has ordered the A.G. to produce documents whose confidentiality is protected by federal law, has refused to subpoena Bush Administration officials to testify about their knowledge of the operation during their time in office, has refused to allow public testimony from officials whose testimony counters Issa’s partisan narrative, and has repeatedly rejected the A.G.’s efforts to accommodate the committee, making compliance all but impossible.

“Attorney General Holder should be commended for the courageous steps he has taken to bolster civil rights and liberties in this country. Unfortunately, these Oversight Committee hearings do nothing but distract from those critically important efforts and undermine the Justice Department’s essential function – to enforce the rule of law.”

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