It sounds as if incoming chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Rep. Darrell Issa is fine tuning his investigations targets net — and some of his inquires could could touch on GOpers as well. The Hill reports:
The incoming chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Sunday that he won’t investigate the Obama administration for offering a job to a Democratic House member to keep him out of a Senate race.
Instead, Rep. Darrell Issa said that problem transcends any one administration. The California Republican indicated he wants to look at the issue more broadly, even hinting that his investigation could lead back into a closer look at the Bush administration.
“We’ve discovered the problem is bigger than that — it’s bigger than President Obama,” Issa said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Bush’s people said, ‘We did the same thing.'”
In February, Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) revealed the White House had dangled a job to dissuade him from running against Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) in November’s midterms. Sestak won the primary contest, but lost the larger election to Republican Pat Toomey.
In response, Issa’s campaign office sent a May email suggesting the episode was “Obama’s Watergate.”
In that email, Issa had said he intended to get to “the bottom” of it.
On Sunday, however, Issa backtracked, arguing that the episode is evidence of a broader problem that needs examining.
“When you offer a position, paid or unpaid, existing statute makes it illegal to offer that job in return for affecting an election,” Issa said. “That is something we’ve got to get to stop.”
Asked directly if he will investigate the Sestak case, Issa said, “No, we’re not.”
“Once we knew, as we discovered, that it turns out that Republicans and previous administrations thought it was OK — in spite of the absolute black and white letter of the law — it got bigger, it got bigger than President Obama.”
Issa continued, “We know now that there’s a problem in government that executive branch people think it’s OK to do this. It’s not OK. Do we need to get this administration to stop doing it? Do we need, if anything, to find out who it was in the Bush administration who thought it was OK to use your taxpayer dollars to affect a Republican primary?”
So Issa in this instance will be seen as a)acknowledging that GOPers did the same thing which does not make it right and/or b)not pursuing it in the eyes of some because it could also be bad PR for Republicans now as well as Democrats. But, at the least, it indicates that he’s not going to let himself be set up to be accused of going after the Dems for something that Republicans also clearly did.
Even so: look for his name to be in the headlines a lot in 2011 and 2012 and to likely be the catalyst that puts several lawyers to work at the White House.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.