Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) will hold a hearing today as chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to “explore the challenges of separating politics from policy under the Hatch Act,” according to Politico. The Hatch Act prevents federal employees from participating in partisan political activity.
Recent meetings at the White House of Obama campaign donors will likely come up, as it should, along with Bush-era problems. However, for Issa to call a hearing on separating "politics from policy" without discussing the donor meetings and fundraising calls that Congress has every day misses the forest for the trees.
Darrell Issa is no innocent bystander. Here are just a few examples:
- Issa has criticized the White House for a proposed draft executive order that would require government contractors to disclose their political spending, saying it politicizes the procurement process. As we wrote in a letter to Issa, “What was not mentioned…is that by opposing the executive order, you may be protecting the secrecy of one of your largest campaign contributors.” Some of his biggest campaign contributors are government contractors.
- On June 14th, Issa held a fundraiser hosted by the Associated General Contractors of America, according to Sunlight Foundation’s PoliticalPartyTime.org. Their PAC has given Issa $26,000 during his career and has been lobbying on any number of issues this year.
- Last fall, on September 28th, the Dutko Group lobbying firm hosted a “California Wine Tasting” fundraiser for Issa. Firm clients included Duke Energy, FedEx (a company that has been in a major battle with Congress over labor rights), and Allergen (a company whose PAC and employees have given Issa $31,000 over the years).
- In July of last year, Issa held a fundraiser hosted by lobbying firm Clark, Lytle, and Geduldig at a sushi restaurant on Capitol Hill. The firm represents the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—a group who opposed legislation like health care reform and financial reform that Issa also voted against and was focused on several Congressional issues during that month.
Of course, it’s not just Issa. Several House members—both Democrats and Republicans—faced investigation last year by the House Office on Congressional Ethics concerning their fundraising during the Wall Street reform fight. As we reported, both Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Ind.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) held energy industry events within hours or days of votes on energy bills. As the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein reported last month, all but one House member that received oil PAC money in April voted against ending Big Oil subsidies in May.
Every day you can see that members of Congress are holding fundraisers with industries they are likely to regulate or discuss before or after taking their campaign cash.
We should definitely make sure federal officials are complying with the Hatch Act, but Issa should also investigate our pay-to-play system too. I’m not holding my breath.