Elected yet unelectable
Currently starting his 8th term in the 49th California Congressional District
For my third installment in this series, I’m going to bring up one of my favorite topics regarding the worst elected officials in the United States government – hypocrisy. Ah, yes, in this case, a self-styled “whistleblower” (against that rotten old Barack Obama) happens to be one of the most corrupt and scandal-ridden members of Congress. You may have read about him in recent years, that fun-loving car thief from California, Darrell Issa.
First of all, Issa’s misdeeds start well before any election. Back in the early 70s, young Darrell was a bomb defuser for the US Army, specifically called an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician (EOD). A fine and important profession. Mr. Issa once claimed to provide security detail for then-President Nixon while he attended the World Series. Problem is, while Issa did indeed work at the 1971 World Series, President Nixon wasn’t there. Okay, so he exaggerated, probably to impress friends. Big deal, right? Well, he wasn’t all that nice to his friends, either. One of his Army comrades, Jay Bergey, confronted Issa over his Dodge Charger disappearing. Bergey threatened his fellow soldier, who denied stealing the car, but after the threat, the car turned up the next day.
The next year, after being discharged from the Army, Issa was arrested twice… once for suspicion of stealing a Maserati, and once for being caught with a concealed firearm during a traffic stop. Prosecutors eventually dropped the car theft charge, but he was sentenced to six months probation regarding the weapon.
From there, it seemed he started to clean up his act. He re-enlisted in the Army, this time in the Reserve, became an officer, and generally received excellent reviews. He eventually moved up to Captain. Yet, Darrell apparently still had trouble with cars. In 1980, before his second discharge, his brother William sold his 1976 Mercedes to a car dealer, while impersonating his brother. At the same time, Darrell reported the vehicle stolen. Both men were indicted for grand theft, but they both denied any knowledge of the other’s actions, and during the investigation. Darrell repurchased the car from the same dealer. Eventually, the charges were dropped. However, the very next year, Darrell ran a truck into another car, then fled the scene. The other driver sued him, and they eventually settled out of court.
So, by 1981, Darrell Issa had been in the military twice, lied about working for Richard Nixon, carried a weapon illegally in his car, commited a hit-and-run, and possibly stole (or was an accomplice) three different cars. Busy man. And he was just getting started!
In 1982, he had started a car alarm company called Steal Stopper. The company started off in a rocky fashion, but eventually began to turn a profit. In August 1982, Issa suddenly increased the coverage of the fire insurance policy for his factory by 462%. He also moved out all of the computers that held accounting and client information. Then, 3 weeks later, on September 7th, the factory burned to the ground. An investigation of the fire led to the discovery of “suspicious burn patterns” as well as evidence of an accelerant used to start the blaze. Nonetheless, the matter was never investigated further, and Issa likely dodged a bullet.
Eventually, the car alarm business made Issa wealthy. Indeed, as of 2014, his net worth is estimated somewhere between 360 and 450 million dollars, making him the wealthiest member of the House of Representatives. You know those Viper car alarms that were so popular in the ’90s, that would speak when someone drifted too close to a car installed with these devices? “WARNING, STEP AWAY FROM THE VEHICLE!” Yeah, that’s what made Issa rich. Yet another reason why he’s an asshole.
“WARNING, THIS VEHICLE OWNER SPENT MORE ON THIS ALARM THAN ON THE ’91 FORD TEMPO IT’S PROTECTING!”
In 1998, he unsuccessfully ran for Barbara Boxer’s Senate seat, losing in the primary. He was able to parlay the name recognition gained from that run to a House seat in California’s 48th Congressional District, replacing retiring Republican Ron Packard. And that’s where the next part of this story begins. To recap once more, before he was ever elected to public office, indeed, by the time he was just 30 years old, Darrell Issa had likely been involved in three car thefts, a weapons charge, a hit-and-run, and possible arson and insurance fraud. So, the good people of San Diego County had no problem electing a career criminal to represent them in Congress. And that’s where the good stuff starts.
Why is Darrell Issa unfit to make laws in the United States? Other than his criminal history, that is? Well, actually, that should be enough by itself. However, the American electorate can be a forgiving bunch, and much of Issa’s past is not known outside of political experts and some of his own constituents. Since he has been in the United States House of Representatives, Mr. Issa has amusingly taken it upon himself to root out corruption… at least, as long as the corrupt are Democrats.
He has become President Obama’s inquisitor-in-chief, going after the Administration over every single “scandal” – most of which, like the IRS scandal, have been shown to be largely manufactured. And yet, Mr. Issa was, and continues to be one of the Bush Administration’s strongest defenders.
His defense of the conditions at the Guantanamo Bay prison were almost funny, describing the living situation for the prisoners there as being no worse than what occurs in hospitals in the United States. Because apparently forced sleep deprivation, sexual and religious humiliation, prolonged sensory overstimulation, and threats with dogs are all standard treatments in American hospitals. Yeah…
Issa also mounted what he likely thought was a stirring defense for the Blackwater scandal, though he seemed to be confused by whom he was defending. During a hearing over the deaths of 11 Iraqi civilians by Blackwater employees, Issa equated the hearing with an attack on… David Petraeus?
“I think it’s been made incredibly clear by the previous statements on the Democrats side that this is not about Blackwater. […]What we’re hearing today is in fact a repeat of the MoveOn.org attack on General Petraeus’ patriotism.
What we’re seeing is that, except for the 79 members who voted against denouncing MoveOn.org, eight of whom are on the dais here today, what we’re seeing is what they couldn’t do to our men and women in uniform, they’ll simply switch targets.
The bodies were not cold in Iraq before this became a story worth going after here in committee.
I’m not here to defend Blackwater.
But I am here to defend General Petraeus and the men and women in uniform who do their job, who were first denounced by MoveOn.org, then not denounced by members of Congress, many of whom are on the dais today, speaking as though they don’t support attacking every possible way the administration’s war in Iraq.”
So, an inquiry into a massacre of civilians by a civilian military contracting agency was somehow akin to an attack on the then-head of the Army in Iraq. It’s doubtful that even Issa believed what he was saying, but it never hurts to try to distract with bombast and false offense.
A few years later, Issa seemed to forget his affection for Petraeus, and decided that he was just a puppet of the Obama administration while doing his damndest to find the there there in Benghazi.
“David Petraeus said what the administration wanted him to say is the indication. Ambassador Pickering heard what the administration wanted to hear. The only under oath people I know about who have said what happened on the ground that day was, in fact, before our committee just on Wednesday.”
In 6 years, Petraeus goes from unfairly targeted martyr to Obama stooge in the eyes of Issa.
Issa found other interesting ways to be a hypocrite. In 2008, Issa put a great deal of effort into explaining away the destruction of several million emails related to the Bush administration’s Valerie Plame scandal. His awkward (and inaccurate) depictions of the previous administration’s Lotus Notes-derived email software now comes across as amusing at best, since he has been the loudest voice among the Republican chorus beating the dead horse of the IRS non-scandal.
Beyond Darrell Issa’s hypocrisy, his constant drum-beating of non-scandals, and of course, his criminal history, Darrell has a long history of petty words and actions at those who upset him. Some of his vendettas don’t amount to any more than mere words, such as his 15 year feud with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Eric Lichtblau, or blaming his brother for his own likely culpability in his crimes of the 70’s and 80’s. In 2007, his aggressive defense of the Bush administration’s domestic surveillance program led to Congressman Jerry Nadler eventually withdrawing true and accurate statements about said surveillance.
Of course, some of his words amount to legitimate pain and suffering, such as his accusations of perjury against Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame, his release of a Border Patrol memo that would eventually lead to the unjust firing of US Attorney Carol Lam, and let’s not forget his near constant assault on the Obama administration.
Issa also spent quite a bit of time defending and supporting the Patriot Act, specifically the domestic surveillance aspect, as well as the troubled Guantanamo Bay prison, and as mentioned before, the Blackwater security contractors. He defended the criminal Bush GSA administrator Lurita Doran, invited the disgraced and incredibly corrupt State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard to the 2007 White House Christmas party, and in general, defended almost every Bush Administration policy that he would later accuse Obama of pursuing.
So, why is Darrell Issa unelectable? Is it his long criminal history? Is it his relentless pursuit of personal wealth that likely required considerable fraud? Is it his aggressive, bullying political tactics? Could it be his willingness to slander and threaten others to win political victories? Could it be due to his dishonesty, hypocrisy, or inconsistency? Or how about all of the above? There are plenty of members of Congress with dubious personal lives, unpleasant personalities, and sordid political tactics. And I can’t wait to discuss them, too. However, few have combined all of these characteristics for so long and in such an unapologetic way as Darrell Issa of California.
Here’s to the freshly re-elected Darrell Issa, who managed to win his 8th term in Congress despite being completely unelectable. And here’s to the voters in California’s 49th district, who keep voting in this horrific excuse for a human being year after year.
As always, here’s some more information on Darrell Issa, and what makes him tick. Read it if you’re in the mood to raise your blood pressure.