House Oversight Chairman Targeted By Ethics Complaint

The New York Times recently published an amazingly sloppy hit piece on House Oversight chairman Darrell Issa.  Confronted with over a dozen factual inaccuracies, the Times has been slowly squeezing a few “corrections” from the clogged bowels of its integrity, but they’ve refused to give Issa the front-page retraction he requested.

Now a “liberal advocacy group” called American Family Voices is filing an ethics complaint against Issa, and as The Hill reports, it cites the Times slander as one of its sources:

The five-page complaint, which was obtained by The Hill, accuses Issa of using his position as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to add to his multimillion-dollar fortune.

An Issa spokesman on Monday said the allegations have absolutely no merit and are part of a smear campaign spearheaded by the White House.

The complaint alleges that Issa pressured the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to halt an investigation of Goldman Sachs shortly after he bought a huge stake in one of Goldman’s high-yield mutual funds.

It also claims Issa used his authority to improperly defend Merrill Lynch, a firm with “which he has a significant financial interest,” the document states.

“In fact and in appearance, Rep. Issa has repeatedly — and impermissibly — used his public position to promote his private financial interests,” Mike Lux, president of American Family Voices, wrote in a letter to former Reps. Porter Goss (R-Fla.) and David Skaggs (D-Colo.), co-chairmen of the [House Office of Congressional Ethics].

[…] “The symbiotic relationship he has established between his business interests and public responsibilities presents, on a continuing basis, the starkest example of conflict of interest,” Lux wrote.

“As disturbing as this would be in the case of any member of Congress, the conflict on display here is especially troubling because it involves the chair of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform — a committee charged with ‘proactively investigating and exposing’ waste, fraud and abuse,” he added.

Lux cites a 3,080-word investigative report published in The New York Times on Aug. 15 and reporting by, a liberal media outlet.

It’s especially outrageous that Issa was able to funnel half a billion dollars of taxpayer money to his big contributors at Solyndra, a shaky company in a politically-created “market” which collapsed into bankruptcy, leaving his cronies to recover their investments while taxpayers get screwed.  I’m glad dedicated champions of the middle class like American Family Voices are all over that scandal!  Oh, wait, my mistake.  That was somebody else, not Representative Issa.

The bowels of integrity at liberal papers like the New York Times may be clogged, but at least the pipelines to nutroots blogs and far-left “advocacy groups” are flowing freely.  In April, American Family Voices president Mike Lux authored some conspiracy ravings for liberal rant site Crooks and Liars about Issa and another favorite lefty hate fetish, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin.  Here’s a taste of his insightful analysis:

There is a certain rich irony in Darrell Issa bringing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to the Capitol for a hearing on how Moody’s has boosted Wisconsin’s credit rating because of the union busting measures Walker has been pushing in the state. So in one sentence, you have a leader of the House Republicans that are trying to do away with Medicare and Medicaid, the governor who most personifies the attempt to crush collective bargaining in this country, and one of the principal companies at the dead center of the fraud on Wall Street that brought down the world economy. They should take their show on the road. You could entitle it “Cruelty, Arrogance, and Fraud: How to Dismantle the American Middle Class in Three Easy Steps.”

Because the “American middle class” lives to pay for the collectively-bargained benefits of public employee unions.  Fannie Mae?  Barney Frank?  Chris Dodd?  Never heard of ‘em.  Did you know the Republicans want to “do away with Medicare and Medicaid?”  Oooga booga!  If you’re willing to fall for stuff like this, you probably already know who Mike Lux is. 

The tightly sealed information eco-system of the Left is a marvel to behold.  The New York Times publishes a bit of front-page slander from a writer who has been accused of cribbing from liberal websites; a far-left group files an ethics complaint based on the lies; Darrel Issa suddenly becomes “the embattled subject of ethics complaints” in mainstream media coverage; American Family Voices gets to send triumphant fundraising letters to the kind of sucker who thinks the government had nothing to do with causing the subprime mortgage crisis.  No one involved has any questions about Obama’s corruption, much less the program that pushed thousands of American guns into Mexico, resulting in the deaths of both Mexican and American citizens. 

Issa’s office categorically dismissed what it views as a politically motivated complaint:

“This complaint is entirely without merit. The White House has used an assortment of outside progressive groups in an effort to attack Oversight and Chairman Issa directly.  This is just their latest salvo in an ongoing effort to obstruct oversight,” said Frederick Hill, Issa’s spokesman.

[…] In defense of his boss, Hill pointed to a memo on Issa’s website disputing reporting in the Times’s investigation.

The memo, which dubbed the article a “hit piece,” said the Times undervalued the purchase price of the Vista, Calif., medical complex Issa bought in 2008.  Therefore, according to the memo, there’s no evidence the property appreciated significantly as a result of the earmarks Issa secured to improve the road serving it. The document notes that Issa did not own the property when he first sought the transportation funding for his district.

It also claims that Issa’s financial transactions through Merrill Lynch were properly disclosed in his annual ethics filing and disputed that Issa had a financial interest in Goldman Sachs’s performance.

Hill said Monday that Issa’s investment in the Goldman Sachs mutual fund does not depend on Goldman’s stock performance. He added that the returns are based on corporate debt payments. Hill said Issa did not try to stop the SEC investigation, but had concerns about its timing.

To clear up a bit of confusion that one suspects might be creeping into certain media coverage, this complaint has been given to the Office of Congressional Ethics, which is “an independent, non-partisan entity charged with reviewing allegations of misconduct,” established in March 2008.  Information they collect is, sensibly enough, kept confidential until they release their final report, and decide whether or not to refer a complaint to the actual House Committee on Ethics.  Referrals are meticulously posted on their web site for public review.

Anybody can send the OCE anything.  It’s their job to evaluate it and decide whether it’s solid enough to warrant the attention of the House.  Meanwhile, media coverage of the Issa complaint is originating with those who filed it, not the OCE.  It will be interesting to see if the New York Times retracts its hit piece before the OCE issues its final report.  I wouldn’t bet money on it.