Oh my! Sounds like someone needs to hold hearings and issue some subpoenas to get to the bottom of this scandal. Yoo hoo, Congressman Waxman:
During the last 18 months, Congressman Darrell Issa has made a name for himself: “Obama’s Chief Antagonist.”
At least, that’s what the Washington Post recently dubbed the U.S. representative from Vista. Politico.com has called him a “conservative firebrand” whose “daily denunciations draw cheers from partisans and booking from TV producers.” Talking Points Memo described Issa’s first 18 months as ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform as a “tireless quest for scandal.”
His investigations have included Toyota, ACORN, the Environmental Protection Agency and whether the Obama administration offered U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak a job to keep him out of the Pennsylvania Senate race.
“He’s throwing a lot of mud and seeing what will stick,” says Melanie Sloan, executive director of the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). “I think he’s always looking for an issue that he can use to hurt the White House. That doesn’t mean he’s always wrong. I just question his motives.”
Issa has made it clear that, should the Republicans gain a House majority in November, he plans to double his staff and begin issuing subpoenas.
These investigators may want to start with Issa himself. A CityBeat analysis of Issa’s 2010 financial disclosure statementan annual report of his financial holdings revealed several conflicts of interest and a real-estate deal that benefited Issa to the tune of $3 million.
Issa filed his form on June 15, 2010, and, at 17 pages, it’s significantly longer than most of his congressional colleagues (Rep. Brian Bilbray, for example, turned in an eight-page form). That’s because Issa, who founded the company behind the Viper car-alarm system, is among the wealthiest members of Congress -- if not the richest.
[...] Last summer, Issa went on a property-buying spree. In the span of two months, he bought industrial complexes in Oceanside and Carlsbad and a condo overlooking Oceanside Bay. Even his son picked up a home in Vista.
The Carlsbad complex, however, is at the center of a lawsuit playing out in Los Angeles County Superior Court. A bank lender in Ventura County is accusing a bank of selling Issa the building for at least $3 million less than it should have.
The property is a series of five brand-new buildings near McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad. Currently, all but one unit is empty, but they can be rented through Greene Properties, a company that employs Issa’s wife and son. The project was dreamed up by Orange County “new urbanism” developer David Dirienzo, who defaulted on a $36-million construction loan in January 2009.
The main lender, East West Bank, put the property up for auction but decided not to sell, instead filing a $12-million “credit bid” to hang onto it. Two weeks later, the bank sold the property to Issa’s company, DEI LLC, for $8.5 million.
In the complaint, Ventura County Business Bank, a secondary lender with an 8.3-percent interest in the original loan, accuses East West of negligence and “breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.” The complaint alleges that East West did not properly market the property and that the bank declined offers to buy the property and loan that were “significantly in excess” of what Issa paid. It specifically states that East West “discouraged” a potential buyer from making an $11.5-million bid on the property, which could have resulted in a $3-million discount for Issa.
This sort of real-estate deal may be familiar to San Diegans. In 2005, Randall “Duke” Cunningham, a former member of Congress representing San Diego County, was caught in a bribery scandal that centered around property bought and sold at abnormal prices.