|A scene from the ‘Occupy DC’ camp in McPherson Square.|
A key Republican lawmaker wants the Obama administration to explain its role in allowing “Occupy Wall Street” protestors to illegally camp in a Washington D.C. park that was recently beautified with nearly half a million dollars in stimulus funds.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R.–Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, asked the Interior Department this week to explain why protestors have been allowed to camp in McPherson Square illegally and destroy the public property.
Issa, who has led investigations into White House connections to the Energy Department’s failed Solyndra loan and the Justice Department’s fatal Fast and Furious Operation, wants to know who in the Obama administration is responsible for the illegal camp and disruptive protests.
“This situation raises questions about why those decisions were made, who participated in making them, and whether political judgments played a role in not enforcing the law,” Issa said in a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
Issa is demanding all communications between the National Park Service (NPS), Interior Department and the White House involving the Occupy DC protests be delivered to his committee by early January.
“While the merits of this stimulus funding are debatable, we can all agree that once the federal government had invested the funds no government agency should have allowed it to be damaged or destroyed when it legally could have been prevented,” Issa said.
“The NPS has an obligation to the American people to explain the decisions that were made regarding the Occupy DC protesters in McPherson Square. The NPS allowed the protesters to camp in McPherson Square and kill newly planted grass that had been funded by the stimulus,” Issa said.
According to the Park Service, the $400,000 in stimulus money was used for new grass, concrete curbs, refurbished benches, new light poles, paint, fencing, trashcans, light meters and water fountains.
Camping is not allowed in the park, but tents have littered the landscape since October and officials were recently forced to tear down a wooden barn-like structure built by the occupiers. Nearly 100 arrests have been made.
Federal officials have circulated flyers to inform protestors that camping is prohibited. However, the park service says the protest is more like a 24-hour vigil than a camp.
Police are starting to crack down on occupy protestors around the country clashing with the crowds in New York and California, and shut down a camp this week in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.