"Issa Oversight Committee Staffs Up with Industry Insiders"

"First as ranking minority member and now as chairman of one of the most powerful committees in Congress, San Diego Republican Darrell Issa has built a team that includes staff members with close connections to industries that could benefit from his investigations.

Issa took control of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform last month, and asked companies, nonprofits and industry associations for guidance on federal regulations. The committee, which includes 23 Republicans and 17 Democrats, has broad powers to investigate government and industry, and to issue subpoenas.

Issa’s staff already has released findings sympathetic to industries bent on softening or eliminating certain government regulations. A preliminary report this month, for example, focused largely on Environmental Protection Agency standards and relied heavily on input from industry associations. Other standards the committee is targeting include new regulations on workplace safety and the financial services industry.

And some on Issa’s staff know this territory from the inside.

Several have ties to billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, who have made much of their fortune in oil and chemical businesses and have established a reputation as staunch small-government conservatives. Their influence through campaign contributions, lobbying and nonprofit groups — such as Americans for Prosperity, an activist organization with connections to the Tea Party movement — has become more pronounced since the shift in power in the House last November.

A Republican staff counsel for the oversight committee is the son of a lobbyist pushing for regulatory changes on behalf of big corporations. At least four other staffers once lobbied Congress for companies and industry associations. Another counsel worked for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which Issa recently asked for input on government regulations."

Brooke Williams and Matt Pearce report for the Center for Public Integrity February 28, 2011.

SEE ALSO:

"Issa’s Brand Crossed Corporate, Political Lines" (Roll Call)

"Rep. Darrell Issa Fires Trusted Aide Bardella" (Washington Post)

"Darrell Issa Spokesman Kurt Bardella Fired Over Emails Probe" (Huffington Post)

"Issa Defends Subpoenas, Provides Timeline of Negotiations with DHS " (Talking Points Memo)

"DC Ethical Watchdog Darrell Issa Fires Top Aide Over Ethical 'Breach'" (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Democrats Call for an Investigation of Law Firm, 3 Tech Companies" (Washington Post)

 

Source: Center for Public Integrity, 03/02/2011