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Rep. Darrell Issa, poised to chair the panel with the power to investigate the Obama administration, is ready to drop the issue he once called an “impeachable” offense and “Obama’s Watergate.”
Six months ago, the California Republican was hammering President Barack Obama for offering Rep. Joe Sestak an administration job in exchange for dropping out of the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary, and was using his role as House Oversight and Government Reform ranking member to keep the matter in the news.
But an Issa spokesman told Roll Call that revisiting the Sestak incident would be a mistake because it could be seen as “a partisan witch hunt.”
Issa was among the chief critics of the incident, which involved the White House tapping President Bill Clinton to offer the Pennsylvania Democrat an administration job if he would drop his Senate primary bid against Sen. Arlen Specter. Sestak dismissed Clinton’s overtures and ultimately went on to defeat Specter in the campaign. Sestak fell to former Rep. Pat Toomey (R) in the general election.
But Issa spokesman Kurt Bardella said Friday that the committee has “no intention” of issuing subpoenas for Clinton, Sestak or anyone else involved; he said similar job offers happen all the time.
“This isn’t isolated to the Obama administration. This goes back to everyone since Andrew Jackson. If you’re going to go down that road, you have to go back to every administration,” he said.
But Issa’s campaign sent out an e-mail in May saying the Clinton job offer could amount to three felony charges of bribery and corruption, and he blasted the White House for “arrogantly and wrongly” assuming the matter could be swept under the rug.
“This may be the way business is done in Chicago, but it’s not the way things are done in our nation’s [C]apitol and I am intent on getting to the bottom of this,” he said at the time.
Reflecting on the panel’s plans, Bardella said investigating the matter might look nefarious at a time when people want to focus on the economy and job creation.
Issa appears to have other plans for oversight.
Issa said in an early Wednesday conference call that he “absolutely” plans to beef up the committee’s use of subpoenas when he takes on the expected role of chairman in January. Specifically, he wants to grant all 74 inspectors general in the executive branch with the subpoena power to investigate any federal program. Currently, only one has such authority.