House Democrats are charging that Rep. Darryl Issa, R-Cal., is using his chairmanship of the House Oversight Committee in a vendetta against the Obama administration, because Issa has issued 103 subpoenas since taking over the committee in 2011.
The Hill reported
that Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and ranking Democrat on the committee, has complained, "He’s playing politics with these subpoenas. He’s pursuing headlines. I’m not saying that some of the investigations aren’t warranted, but we could’ve done so much more with the power we have."
Issa has been aggressively pursuing investigations into the Obama White House over issues such as the Fast and Furious scandal, Obamacare, the 2012 terrorist attack on the embassy in Benghazi, Libya, and, most recently, whether the administration's re-opening and use of a White House political office is in violation of the Hatch Act.
The Cummings-Issa conflict is heating up, with Cummings complaining that subpoenas have been issued by Issa without consulting with Cummings and Republicans accusing Democrats of covering up for the president.
Issa spokesman Frederick Hill told The Hill, "Ranking member Cummings’s criticisms about subpoena numbers were completely absent when a Democratic majority was issuing subpoenas on the same pace during the Bush administration."
Hill added that Cummings "has never given the committee cause to see his opposition to individual subpoenas as anything other than a continuing effort to delay and obstruct any oversight that goes beyond the limited and highly selective facts this administration is willing to produce on a voluntary basis.”
The Hill notes that Issa's subpoena record is not that extreme when compared to the 46 subpoenas that Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Cal., issued in two years under President Bush while Waxman chaired the committee.
Cummings urged Issa to back off the investigation of the IRS 2013 tea party scandal case, but Issa continued and his subpoenas resulted in the discovery of the destruction of emails and former IRS official Lois Lerner being held in contempt.
Issa has subpoenaed documents from the White House political office related to whether violations of the Hatch Act restricting fundraising activities on federal property occurred. He also has subpoenaed White House chief of Staff Denis McDonough and David Simas, director of the Office of Political Strategy, the Washington Examiner reported
Specifically, Issa has expressed interest in President Obama's trips to Minnesota and Colorado, and a March, 2012, fundraising phone call made by former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, the Examiner notes.
Hill told The Hill, "Subpoenas are used when voluntary cooperation is not forthcoming. The issuance of subpoenas says more about this administration than the Oversight Committee, Chairman Issa or ranking member Cummings."
Subpoenas, he said, only occur "when the administration tries to stonewall."
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