Share |

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Issa ignores more than a hundred at district office

 

Well over 100 people visited Darrell Issa's district office in Vista this morning, demanding that he finally start working to bring jobs to Main Street instead of working from the pocket of Wall Street.
 
It was the same office that Issa vehemently defended from claims of overlooking a golf course. While there wasn't an opportunity to to check all the views from the building, there were a number of gated communities all around that looked as though they would probably be nice for those rich enough to afford the isolation. Those were different from the country club community that surrounds the golf course a couple blocks over.
 
The crowd was impressively energetic for an early morning event, and included members of the San Diego Labor Council, Machinists Union, California Nurses Association, National Associations of Letter Carriers and the California Alliance for Retired Americans.
 
  
 
All of those groups represent some of the people facing the spectre of serious threat from Issa's agenda. Whether it's Issa's plan to close the legal system to workers, or his proposal to gut the postal service, there's no prospect of better or more secure jobs in Issa's agenda.
 
Whether it's Issa's support for the debt ceiling deal that will cost 1.8 million jobs in 2012 or his legislation to eliminate 400,000 jobs, these folks aren't buying Issa's pitch that losing all those jobs is a job-creation plan.
 
Hundreds of thousands of Issa's constituents would suffer if he succeeded in his attempts to repeal health care reform or in his goal of privatizing Medicare and Medicaid. Nurses know what happens if people can't afford good care, and everyone knows how scary it is to choose between health and poverty.
 
Most amazing, if probably not surprising, was the reaction. Spokesman Frederick Hill, who's based in Washington DC, seemed to be reacting to a different protest entirely -- one that didn't have anything to actually do with his employer or the issues discussed this morning. Hill went on a diatribe about taxes and the campaign to re-elect Obama, neither of which was a topic at all this morning.
 
Nobody was talking about tax policy. Nobody was talking about a presidential election. There was certainly a conversation about creating jobs, but it had more to do with Issa's proposals. The proposals to hand out $900 million tax breaks to huge corporations who promise to slash wages and cut benefits. About the far-reaching influence of Koch Brothers money on his committee. Hiring executives from Goldman Sachs to protect Wall Street after it devastated our economy. About blocking any hearings that don't fit his partisan, pro-Wall Street narrative.  About the increasingly blurry line between Issa's public work and private quest for personal profit.
 
And now, it's also about a member of Congress who claims to be working for his constituents but doesn't even know what his constituents are concerned about after they come en masse to his office and tell him.
 
It's not surprising any more that Issa and his staff were unwilling to field the concern of so many constituents and hard working Americans -- they've systematically ignored anyone who couldn't afford to buy an audience. Heck -- the entire agenda of Issa's Oversight Committee is set by corporate interests -- at Issa's request. Yet it's a particularly new level of flagrant dismissal to not even know what concerns Issa's constituents were attempting to raise when they raised those concerns in his own district office.
 
Issa and his staff may imagine that the only thing that anyone cares about is partisan posturing ahead of next November's election, but those who are impacted by his behavior have to live with the challenges every day. If Issa can neither recognize his constituents or what they're concerned about, well... it's a pretty clear indication of who he's really working for.

14 comments

Share |

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

High-priced CEO pay exceeding tax bills

 

~ Democrats on the Oversight Committee released a report today finding that a quarter of the country's highest paid CEOs make more than their companies pay in taxes. Among many related issues, Issa of course was opposed to letting shareholders vote on executive pay. And hired a Goldman Sachs VP to carry water for Wall Street. Plus, Rep. Patrick McHenry, who runs the Oversight subcommittee on financial issues, was accepting donations from Countrywide while working on an investigation into CEO payout fraud that included Countrywide.
 
~ Speaking of which, Issa was at his congitive dissonant best this week, telling a South Carolina newspaper that “All members have a responsibility to ensure that contributions don’t impact their decisions.” Dozens of Issa's donors have received a platform from Issa's Oversight Committee to lobby their self-interest, and the Kochtopus has funneled more than $100,000 to committee Republicans. But in this case Issa was concerned about unions -- people who aren't as rich as Issa and his buddies -- pooling enough small dollar donors together to get a seat at the table. Issa has expressed his preference for instead providing $900 million taxpayer-funded handouts to corporations in exchange for a promise to reduce benefits and pay.
 
~ It's hard to keep track of who's working for Darrell Issa or for the Daily Caller week to week given the revolving door, but they were good enough to be the only outlet so far to run with the latest salvo from Issa Enterprises at the New York Times -- that the Times is clearly biased because it hasn't sufficiently balanced its recent critical articles with equally visibile complimentary coverage.
 
~ And for those in the metro CA-49 area, don't forget to join the San Diego Labor Council, Machinists Union, California Nurses Association, National Associations of Letter Carriers and the California Alliance for Retired Americans and more in visiting Darrell Issa's office tomorrow morning.

1 comments

Share |

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Visit Darrell Issa’s office Thursday Morning

 

One of the inescapable, recurring themes on this blog is the dramatic lengths that Darrell Issa has gone to in order to put corporate interests in charge of government, police themselves, and insulate them from accountability.
 
Whether it was asking industry groups and corporate lobbyists to set his committee's agenda, stacking his hearings with friends, campaign donors and industry shills, or even hiring Wall Street executives to protect Wall Street from lawmakers, it's clear whose side Darrell Issa is on.
 
Who's left out? Everyday working families. So on Thursday morning, they're gathering at Issa's district office in Vista to demand better.
 
San Diego Labor Council, Machinists Union, California Nurses Association, National Associations of Letter Carriers and the California Alliance for Retired Americans are among those who will be there at 8:30 Thursday morning to protest Issa's failure to represent working families.
 

0 comments

Share |

Monday, August 29, 2011

Blurry line remains between Issa’s public and private dealings

 

Questions have been swirling for months about Darrell Issa's purchase of the office building at 2067 West Vista Way. In addition to previous questions about the property, it appears that one of the principals who negotiated the deal also made his only federal political contribution ever to Issa's campaign.
 
Principal Larry Strickland, who was one of the two principals who negotiated the sale to Issa's Viper LLC also made the only federal campaign contribution of his life to Issa according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The same is true of another principal from the same office. 
 
Further underscoring Issa's direct involvement in these deals, the two principals from Lee & Associates who negotiated the sale of the building list "United States Congressman Darrell Issa" on their client list and not any of his private companies -- even though the initial announcement of the deal describes the deal with Viper LLC without mention of Issa.
 
The property was first thrust front and center by Think Progress, where Lee Fang found that Issa personally inserted earmarks for improvements around the property in December 2007, then bought the property in December 2008. Issa then requested $2 million more in earmarked improvements for the Fiscal Year beginning October 2008 -- in a budget that wasn't passed until March of 2009.
 
Issa has had a long string of problems in this arena. In early 2010, Issa took to the floor of the House to decalre that "an earmark is tantamount to a bribe," but only after requesting hundreds of millions in earmarks -- including millions for Issa's leading campaign donors. It's clear that the principals who negotiated the sale of the questioned property consider Issa's private companies to be synonymous with "United States Congressman Darrell Issa."
 
They aren't the only ones. In February, the Oversight Committee's Youtube channel was uploading videos crediting "DEI Productions," Issa's private namesake corporation. Until Roll Call investigated, dei.com read "ISSA -- US Congressman." Issa also took Congressional staffers to the January Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. As Roll Call also reported, "Issa declared he was there as a board member on personal business... But his press secretary, standing next to him, declared he was there on official Oversight Committee business, and the Committee paid his way."
 
Before going to Congress, Issa was chairman of the Consumer Electronics Association. The current CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, Gary Shapiro, recently went to Huffington Post to defend Issa from the questions raised by the New York Times, citing many of Issa's responses that have now been demonstrated inaccurate and highlighting the close ties between Issa and the industry.
 
Recent reports from the New York Times and Think Progress, and commentaries like this from the Sacramento Bee, have called into question whether Issa can effectively keep his public business and private empire separate. Breaking from precedent, Issa has not put his vast wealth into a blind trust to minimize the possibility of conflicts. Instead, he's maintained direct involvement in his financial empire, all but assuring that these problems will continue to erode his credibility.

2 comments

Share |

Monday, August 29, 2011

Issa raises questions over which of his statements were false

 

In the immediate aftermath of the east-coast earthquake, Darrell Issa was on twitter trying to sell his partisan agenda with the earthquake hashtag. But the day after, the New York Times responded to his demands for a retraction of its story with a resounding "no," and we haven't really heard anything from Issa since.
 
The response letter from the New York Times is at times worse for Issa than the original article, and the Times says flat out that "the article was carefully reported, written, and edited, and we stand by the story both in its broad thrust and, except as noted, in its particular details. We do not believe a retraction is warranted." Then it takes on Issa's disputes one by one:
 
Issa: Directed Electronics is not, as reported, a supplier to Toyota.
 
NYT: DEI has provided a range of accessories to Toyota, and Toyota has "acknowledged that its dealers may make DEI products available to customers." Tougher for Issa is his early-2010 media tour where he described himself as a supplier to Toyota:
 
"I was an auto supplier...that was the question I couldn't ask (Chairman Toyoda) is why is it every year I had to give you price reductions to all my auto company customers and every year you have price increases."
 
So either Issa was lying then or he's lying now. Neither option particularly lends credibility to this or any other of Issa's objections.
 
Issa: The Times misreported the profit on market trades "based on reporting errors...based on an incorrect form."
 
NYT: "The 'incorrect form' you cite was filed by your own foundation with the IRS. Tough for Issa Enterprises to wax outrage over the accurate reporting of its own records just because the records were inaccurate. And, given the opportunity to dispute or correct the record in advance of the Times article, Issa's office did not respond.
 
Issa is now responsible for issuing subpoenas, handling a wide range of sensitive information, and presiding over complex investigations. If this IRS filing incorrectly reported Issa's profits, how many others also misrepresent Issa's vast financial empire? The form in question, and the one in the next point, represent a significant proportion of the financial records sought for the article, and they were flawed. How much more don't we know about Issa's vast wealth because of 'incorrect forms?'
 
Issa: The Vista property sited near hundreds of thousands in improvements earmarked by Issa was not purchased for $10.3 million.
 
NYT: The San Diego County Assessor's records and confirmation by phone were in error. Both the records and a follow-up interview with the Assessor failed to include a $6 million loan received from the seller in the total price of the property.
 
However, as the original Times article notes, Issa has been aggressively pursuing real estate for several years during the down market. Hard to imagine it isn't with the intent of making a profit.
 
Issa: Reporter Eric Lichtblau refused to share contact info of his editors.
 
NYT: After not responding for weeks to requests for comment, Lichtblau received one email from Issa spox Frederick Hill, responded promptly, and then never heard back. Presumably, this is because Hill had already moved on to attacking the story to other media outlets.
 
It should also probably be noted that if someone were trying to find contact info for the editors at the Times, they could try the "Contact Us" page that's linked right there on the website.
 
Issa: Office does not have a golf course view.
 
NYT: The article never said that his office has a golf course view, and the realty agency lists the building as featuring a golf course view.
 
Again, Issa is stuck trying to blame the Times for public records that he doesn't like or which are inaccurate. At least it gave us all a chance to get a video tour of the office directed by Issa himself... not that it ever had anything to do with the concerns being raised by the article.
 
And finally, Issa's favorite canard: That Issa did not own the building on West Vista way while seeking the earmarks.
 
The NYT correctly smacks this down, as have we. Issa requested the earmarks and had them successfully inserted into the federal budget. Then he purchased the building. He then requested $2 million more earmark funding. That may actually be worse, with Issa making an investment based on personal knowledge of pending public works projects that may increase the property's value, then trying to get more. In some arenas, that would be called insider trading. Issa himself called earmarks "tantamount to a bribe." Yet Issa's case, it's been spun as part of a broader campaign of savvy real estate investing.
 
Issa's objections range from the cosmetic to the inaccurate, and he has walked himself now more than once into confirmably inaccurate statements. His inability to defend himself against the questions that have been raised without forcing the public to choose when he wasn't speaking accurately suggests this may just be the tip of the iceberg.

7 comments

Share |

Friday, August 26, 2011

Darrell Issa’s personal Goldman rep arranged Elizabeth Warren perjury showdown

 

~ There are more and more wrinkles in the troubling saga of the former Goldman Sachs VP hired by Issa to protect Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms from accountability on the Hill. It now looks as though he was also personally responsible for the scheduling disagreement between Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Patrick McHenry that quickly mushroomed into a debacle of McHenry twice accusing Warren of perjury.
 
Goldman Sachs has dropped millions on lobbying Congress and now it looks like they've gotten themselves a mole as well, courtesy of Darrell Issa. Issa and McHenry, of course, have themselves been the beneficiaries of generous campaign donations from giant financial firms throughout their careers.
 
~ While on that subject, the Goldman exec in question claimed last week that he had change his name to honor his family's Transylvanian heritage. Submitted with nothing but amazement, it appears that heritage is about service to an Hungarian fascit military dictator who was an early ally of Hitler's regime in Germany. So... there's that.
 
~ Some credit where it's due -- Issa has been ahead of the curve on government giving up. Back in January, he proposed not just ending the HAMP program designed to help struggling homeowners, but replacing it with nothing. His plan was to just spend the money instead on... well... nothing. Now it looks like $30 billion originally earmarked for foreclosure relief will be spent on nothing, because congressional Republicans aren't interested in rerouting the money.
 
~ New numbers show that in the last few years, private companies have seen record profits per employee, indicating that these businesses can but are not hiring. The profit rate has spiked 12% during the same period that Darrell Issa and others have continued insisting that supply-side economic policies of giving more money to private companies would spur job growth. 
 
~ It isn't just looking like Issa's trying to steer morning to the wrong side of the economic equation. The National Association for Business Economics reports this week that an overwhelming majority of its members find the current business regulatory climate to be "'good' for American businesses and the overall economy." That flies in the face of Issa's entire raison d'etre over 8 months at the helm of Oversight, during which he's constantly pressed to relieve what he considers to be the regulatory burden facing businesses. NABE also knocked down the notion of economic uncertainty as a convenient stand-in for a range of other issues, contradicting the multi-millionaire corporate CEO (who's spent hundreds of thousands to elect Republicans) who Issa's been using recently as a spokesperson for small businesses. It's unclear if that's because Issa couldn't find a small business owner who agreed with him, or simply prefered a rich, corporate political ally.
 
~ In another clash, Issa was on Twitter trumpeting the economic insights of actor Rob Lowe, who has also heard some concern about 'uncertainty.' Issa was so impressed that he loaded the brief clip onto the Oversight Committee's YouTube channel (which is taxpayer-funded). It came a week after Warren Buffett begged the government to stop coddling the super rich and tax them already, setting up an interesting collision of perspectives. Issa has, of course, been a staunch supporter of the Bush tax breaks for the super-rich, also known as tax breaks for Issa personally. Issa gets extra satisfaction from those tax breaks because, breaking with Congressional precedent, he still maintains direct control over his near-half-billion-dollar empire instead of keeping it in a blind trust.

7 comments

Page 4 of 40 pages ‹ First  < 2 3 4 5 6 >  Last ›