Rep. Darrell Issa keeping heat on A.G. Holder

June 14, 2012

By John Seiler

NEWPORT BEACH — Speaking at the Pacific Club today, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, said he would continue to hold Attorney General Eric Holder’s feet to the fire. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which Issa chairs, has been stonewalled by Holder on turning over documents concerning the Operation Fast and Furious scandal. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms purposely allowed Mexican drug gangs to buy American weapons, leading to the deaths of federal agent Brian Terry and hundreds of Mexicans.

Issa spoke before about 120 Orange County community and government leaders in an event sponsored by the Pacific Research Institute,’s parent think tank.

Issa said that members of his staff were meeting with Holder’s staff at the same time Issa’s speech was being given, noon Pacific time, 3 pm Eastern time. “Every single word will be recorded,” he said. “At some point, someone has to be held accountable for Brian Terry and hundreds of others dying.”

He expected that, eventually, a vote on holding Holder in contempt of Congress would be held on his committee, with Republicans voting Yea, and Democrats voting Nea.

In a report that came out just after Issa’s speech, CNN wrote:

“Facing a possible contempt vote by a House committee, Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday offered to release more records of a botched gun probe and proposed a quick face-to-face meeting with the committee’s chairman.

“In a two-page letter to Rep. Darrell Issa, Holder promised to provide documents he has so far refused to turn over, arguing they were outside the scope of the committee’s investigation of the ‘Fast and Furious‘ firearms probe. The offer follows a decision by Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, to narrow the committee’s request to exclude sensitive law enforcement information relating to the investigation.”

“Holder called his offer ‘an extraordinary accommodation of the committee’s interest’ and urged Issa to meet with him by Monday.”

Government needs to be limited

On other matters, Issa spoke of the need to limit an out-of-control government. He excoriated Democrats for failing to initiate any serious investigation of President Obama when Democrats controlled the oversight committee from 2009-10. But he also criticized Republicans in Congress for failing adequately to investigate their own president, George W. Bush, when they were in the majority from 2003-2006.

Issa also insisted that, should he continue as the oversight committee’s chairman next year, and should Republican Mitt Romney be elected, he would not soften investigations of his own party’s chief executive as both Democrats and Republicans have done recently.

He called Washington’s many agencies and departments a “swamp” that has grown for decades under presidents both Democratic and Republican, although growing least under President Ronald Reagan. “The challenge of people who want to return America to a greater liberty is accountability.”

He called for legislation that mandates re-authorizing all bills after 10 years. As things are, new bureaus and departments are self-perpetuating, with the executive branch deciding how new contingencies are met — and government growing along the way. Instead, Issa insisted, Congress should be forced to look at everything it has authorized once a decade to fine tune what is being done, saving the taxpayers’ money — or even eliminate a function no longer needed.

And he called for the Senate to pass the DATA Act, approved in the House in April, which would establish a searchable database of all federal government information.

No to High-Speed Rail

Turning to California, Issa said of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, “California is broke and doesn’t have the money to build it. What I have to do is make sure the Feds don’t come in and provide it.” He added that, if his oversight committee had more resources for investigations, an investigation would uncover more  irregularities and, “We could kill it.”

Currently, Gov. Jerry Brown is seeking to advance what is being called the “Browndoggle.” Proposition 1A, which voters passed in 2008, authorized $9.9 billion in bonds for the project, which would add about $1 billion a year to the general fund for bond repayments.

And the federal government is slated to spend $3.5 billion on the Browndoggle.

Issa concluded by pointing out that there’s one area of the country where economic growth is soaring: the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., where the federal functionaries live who make twice what equivalent private-sector workers make.

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