The Profiteers Club: Congressman Darrell Issa

During the debt-ceiling dust up, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) claimed the U.S. deserved a downgrade if Congress didn't slash spending down to the bare bones. He also claimed the August 2nd date for raising the debt-ceiling was meaningless.

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During the debt-ceiling dust up, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) claimed the U.S. deserved a downgrade if Congress didn't slash spending down to the bare bones. He also claimed the August 2nd date for raising the debt-ceiling was meaningless.

However, Issa doesn't mind turning a profit and availing himself much of government largesse to do so. As he votes and argues for deep cuts to government spending (and jobs) for all of us, he's doing a wonderful job of lining his own purse.

The New York Times' Eric Lichtblau has some tasty tidbits in his in-depth piece on Issa:

Even as he has built a reputation as a forceful Congressional advocate for business, Mr. Issa has bought up office buildings, split a holding company into separate multi-billion dollar businesses, started an insurance company, traded hundreds of millions of dollars in securities, invested in overseas funds, retained an interest in his auto-alarm company and built up a family foundation.

As his private wealth and public power have grown, so too has the overlap between his private and business lives, with at least some of the congressman’s government actions helping to make a rich man even richer and raising the potential for conflicts.

He has secured millions of dollars in Congressional earmarks for road work and public works projects that promise improved traffic and other benefits to the many commercial properties he owns here north of San Diego. In one case, more than $800,000 in earmarks he arranged will help widen a busy thoroughfare in front of a medical plaza he bought for $10.3 million.

Lee Fang over at ThinkProgress reported on the earmarks last March.

ThinkProgress has discovered more troubling evidence that Issa may have blended his work as a lawmaker with his own business empire.

After founding a successful car alarm company, Issa invested his fortune in a sprawling network of real estate companies with holdings throughout his district. One of Issa’s most valuable properties, a medical office building at 2067 West Vista Way in Vista, California, is called the Vista Medical Center, and was purchased in 2008 for $16.6 million. Described as “a long-term investment,” the property was bought by a company called Viper LLC, a business entity operated by Issa’s family that Issa has up to a $25 million dollar stake in.

Around the same time Issa made the Vista Medical Center purchase, the congressman began requesting millions of dollars worth of earmarks to widen and improve the highway adjacent to the building. In 2008, he requested $2 million to expand West Vista Way, the road in front of his “long-term investment,” but only received $245,000 from the government. The next year, Issa made another earmark request for improving the West Vista Way highway next to his building. He earmarked another$570,000, bringing his total to $815,000, to add parking lots, widen the road, add bus stops, improve the sewer system, and other utility work.

Most troubling to me are Issa's connections to Wall Street. From Lichtblau's article:

And Mr. Issa is no ordinary Merrill customer.

His transactions there have totaled more than a billion dollars in the last decade, records show. In the aftermath of the firm’s acquisition in September 2008, in fact, he bought and sold at least $206 million in Merrill Lynch mutual funds in the next 15 days, records show.

His ties to the bank deepened last year, records show, as Merrill Lynch gave him two “personal notes” for lines of credit worth at least $75 million.

Yes, this is the guy who is the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. In his tenure in that position since January, he's gone after the NLRB on behalf of Boeing Corporation, taken aim at President Obama's re-election campaign, attacked the Obama administration and opened an investigation over improved CAFE standards, and obliged his NRA masters by attacking the ATF and Eric Holder for "Operation Fast and Furious".

If I were the IRS, and I read any of the articles Lee Fang has written about Issa, or this article in the New York Times, I think I would be opening audits on the tax-exempt family foundation, at the very least. Darrell Issa is seems to be another example of those who condemn what they do.

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