Issa still avoiding personal accountability
Darrell Issa may be quick to toot his own horn when it comes to holding government accountable, but the self-proclaimed “watchdog” knows a thing or two about slipping away from judicial consequence.
A glimpse into Issa’s past reveals he was arrested twice for auto theft, though the charges were dropped both times. The San Francisco Chronicle reported
that in 1972 a then 19-year-old Issa was “indicted with his brother William on a charge of felony grand theft for allegedly stealing a red Maserati sports car from a dealership in Cleveland.” The Chronicle also points to a scheme in 1980 in which the brothers “[faked] the theft of Issa’s Mercedes Benz sedan and [sold] it to a car dealer for $16,000.” Issa was not prosecuted in either case.
Then, according to The Washington Post
, in 1982 Issa was suspected, but never charged, of arson at his company’s Cleveland manufacturing plant. Not only did the fire conveniently occur shortly after Issa expanded the factory’s insurance coverage, but a company bookkeeper told investigators “computers and records had been removed from the site days before the fire for no clear reason.” The Los Angeles Times reported, “flammable liquid appeared to have been poured on the only area not covered by fire sprinklers.”
Issa past is also fraught with illegal-weapons charges, including an incident at AC Custom in which Issa intimidated executive Jack Frantz with a gun as a means of firing him. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Frantz claimed
, “He just showed [the gun] to me and said 'You know what this is?' Issa invited Frantz to hold the gun at one point and told him he had learned about guns and explosives during his military days, Frantz said. Because he was about to be fired, Frantz said he saw it as 'pure intimidation.'
How does Issa respond to these claims? Well, in an interview with The New York Times, he blew off all serious allegations by sarcastically joking “Some day somebody’s going to report on those little pineapple squares I snitched at a party.”
A lot of Issa’s past is still hazy, but blaming a pattern of questionable behavior on youth or on his brother is hardly a precedent for accountability to hope for. And as he takes on a new role as the top government watchdog in the House, it’s shocking that he could remain so cavalier about his many brushes with the law.