Politicians who abuse the enormous power they wield over the lives of the American people to enhance their personal business interests are not a new phenomena by any means. With the sleazy revolving doorbetween massively rich and powerful corporations and the government posts meant to regulate themspinning off its hinges, such corruption has hardly seems worth writing about anymore.
The spat between the New York Times and Darrel Issa is only notable for two reasons. First, the Times wrote about Issa’s rather blatant corruption in using earmarks to enrich his business and himself personally. Usually these douchebags only enrich their friends and campaign contributors.
Second, Issa has used his position as chairman of a powerful government oversight committee in the House to investigate the Securities and Exchange Commission’s lawsuit against Goldman Sachs over allegations of fraud that contributed to the lending crisis, while Issa has a significant amount of money invested in funds controlled by Goldman. A negative outcome for Goldman in that lawsuit would be a negative financial outcome for Issa personally and professionally.
That rises beyond a mere appearance of impropriety. Rather it’s evidence of active political corruption.
It has long been clear that the federal government and the Obama administration specifically has no interest in investigating Wall Street crimes, which leaves that job to the mostly lazy and corrupt press. It’s significant that the Times is doing anything in this area at all, and unsurprising that it didn’t take much digging to find a powerful committee chairman protecting a company from equally rare investigations of wrongdoing which benefits him financially.
Issa’s cult like obsession with minor scandals and partisan oversight investigations that amount to little more than petty harassment and score settling – when they aren’t designed to protect his corporate friends and personal business interests – has made him popular with the deadenders that think there are an astronomical number of outrageous scandals and reams of illegal behavior by the Obama administration just waiting for a courageous dedicated public servant to lift a rock – any rock – to uncover it all.
That facade must be protected if Issa wants to keep climbing the slimy ladder in government and almost certainly protect his inevitable post-government job with Goldman Sachs or whatever other businesses that are donating large sums of money to his campaigns in exchange for protection from prosecution.
What’s funny about all of this though is that Issa, despite knowing this story was coming for weeks prior, launched a smear campaign against the Times in order to sweep his corruption under the rug in the most hilariously inept way possible.
The Times carefully reviewed Issa’s criticism of their story and his demand for a full retraction, and released a reply that made Issa and his staff look like a bunch of idiots. It’s short and well worth your time to read in full. My favorite item from the list is that the Times’ reporter repeatedly contacted Issa’s office for three weeks while writing the story, and never got a single reply from them. Many of those queries involved the alleged inaccuracies listed in Issa’s complaint. One of those inaccuracies pointed out by Issa was found by the Times to be the result of an error-filled filing that Issa’s own company made with the IRS, placing it in legal jeopardy.
It was widely expected that Republicans in the House would launch a lot of ridiculous and superficial investigations of the White House and executive branch, because that’s what they did during the Clinton administration and that’s what people like Issa have been promising to do for the past two years.
It was equally as inevitable that the culture of corruption that has infected Congress generally and the GOP specifically to a much greater extent, would see Congressional investigations turn against federal regulators as they tried to get to the bottom of Wall Street’s crimes not just to protect campaign donors, but also the personal business interests of so many members of Congress that are wholly owned and controlled by the financial industry and those whose businesses have complex and significant ties to those same corporations.