Rep. Darrell Issa, the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, is upset that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has been intimidating members of Congress and governors who bash the economic stimulus, according to a press release from the lawmaker’s office.
Issa fired off a letter this week to Emanuel saying, “While this type of scare tactic may work In Chicago, it will not work to intimidate me or other members of the United States Congress.”
“I and others have dared to bring these facts to the attention of President Obama, the Congress, and the American people,” Issa wrote. “You’ve unfortunately reacted by once again resorting to the playbook of the Chicago political machine,” the California lawmaker added.
Last month, Politico reported that Emanuel had “launched a coordinated effort to jam” Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl and other administration critics.
“After seeing Kyl and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., again paint the legislation as a failure on Sunday talk shows, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel directed that letters from the Cabinet secretaries be sent to [Arizona’s Republican Governor Jan] Brewer, according to two administration officials,” Politico charged.
In his missive to Emanuel Issa levied his own charges: “The fact that the letters were coordinated by you to maximize the level of intimidation is supported by the timing, structure, and content of each letter. Not only were the four letters all sent the day following Senator Kyl’s remarks, but they were also remarkably similar in tone and sentence structure.”
Following is some of the text of a couple of the letters lambasted by Issa: Letter from Ray LaHood, Secretary of Transportation:
“On Sunday, Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl publicly questioned whether the stimulus is working and stated that he wants to cancel projects that aren’t presently under way. I believe the stimulus has been very effective in creating job opportunities throughout the country. However, if you prefer to forfeit the money we are making available to your state, as Sen. Kyl suggests, please let me know . . .” Letter from Ken Salazar, secretary of the Interior:
“Some key Republican leaders in Congress have publicly questioned whether the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is working and suggested cancelling all projects that are not currently in progress. I believe they are wrong. The stimulus funds provided through the Recovery Act are a very effective way to create job opportunities throughout the Country. However, if you prefer to forfeit the money we are making available to Arizona, please let me know . . .”
“At what point do you believe your practice of Chicago-style politics violates a public official’s right to speak out in favor of alternative policies?” Issa asked in his letter. “The American people have a right to know what role you played in developing the threatening letters to Gov. Brewer and whether you intend to continue to engage in these tactics in the future.”
In order to assist the Committee with its investigation of the alleged intimidations, Issa set forth a shopping list of demands to Emanuel: Your response to Politico’s report that “White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel directed that the letters from the cabinet secretaries be sent to [Governor] Brewer, according to two administration officials.” A full and complete explanation of the development of the four July 13 letters from the cabinet secretaries to Gov. Brewer, including but not limited to the role you or any other White House official played in writing the letters or encouraging the writing of the letters. All records and communications between you and Secretary LaHood, Secretary Salazar, Secretary Donovan, and Secretary Vilsack referring or relating to the decision to send the July 13 letters to Gov. Brewer. A full and complete explanation of the role of the Democratic National Committee and the White House Office of Political Affairs in authoring, encouraging, facilitating, or directing the four July 13 letters from the cabinet secretaries to Gov. Brewer.
In addition to the investigative demands, Issa used the letter as an opportunity to showcase his own criticism of the stimulus.
“I thought the outdated and discredited Keynesian economic theory behind your effort was misguided and I opposed the stimulus,” Issa wrote to Emanuel. “Unfortunately, recent economic data has validated my opposition. The U.S. economy lost 433,000 jobs in June, bringing the unemployment rate to 9.5 percent. These job losses come on the heels of other declining economic indicators, and bring the total number of American jobs lost since President Obama took office to over 2.6 million.”
Issa further noted a Politico report that in response to the letters, Gov. Brewer "knew she'd been thrown a high, hard one."
The incensed lawmaker also noted that the president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry felt the need to respond to these tactics by penning a column under the headline: "Mr. President: Don't Bully Arizona."
In the final paragraphs, Issa challenged Emanuel: “The American people have a right to know what role you played in developing the threatening letters to Gov. Brewer and whether you intend to continue to engage in these tactics in the future.
“Since I represent a district in the great state of California, I hope that you will not take this letter as an indication of Gov. Schwarzenegger's position on stimulus funds dedicated to California nor his position on any other public policy issue. I can assure you that any attempt to intimidate me or silence my criticism of the stimulus through such Chicago-style tactics will be futile.”
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