You remember Dan Burton, the Indiana Republican Congressman who single-handedly tried to bring down Bill Clinton's presidency, issuing over 1,000 subpoenas against the Clinton administration before anyone had even heard of Monica Lewinsky? He's actually still in Congress, but is no longer making headlines such as shooting pumpkins in his backyard to prove to skeptics that Vince Foster couldn't have killed himself.
Is that who San Diego area GOP Congressman Darrell Issa wants to emulate as he steps into his role of being President Obama's chief agonistes? The California Congressman, whose biggest claim to fame up until now was his help in leading to the recall of former California Democratic Governor Grey Davis in 2003 (but ultimately led to him crying at a news conference when he realized that Arnold Schwarzenegger, and not himself, would end up becoming Davis' replacement).
Issa was on Fox, CBS, and CNN on Sunday, emphasizing that his main focus as the new House Chairman of the Oversight Committee is to stop wasteful government spending, and not ostensibly make hell for the administration. But Ed Henry on CNN's State of the Union challenged Issa on how much his potential investigations would cost the American public:
HENRY: Well, let's — Congressman Boehner, who is going to be the speaker, has said he wants to cut $100 billion from the federal budget and he wants to start with committees.
How are you going to fund all these various investigations when Democrats point out that you had the Securities and Exchange Commission investigate the timing of the — of its suit against Goldman Sachs some time ago because there was a suggestion that you had that maybe the Democrats were timing that suit so that it would help them pass financial reform legislation?
Basically the SEC inspector general went through 3.4 million e- mails from 64 employees. They took all kinds of sworn statements. They spent weeks and weeks on this. And at the end there was nothing there.
How much did an investigation like that cost and are you going to be transparent about how much taxpayer money you're spending on all of this?
ISSA: Ed, I'm glad you asked this because what we did was we noted the timing. We sent to the SEC — and the inspector general there said yes, this looks like the kind of thing that we follow up and investigate.
He conducted an investigation, with no interference and no guidance from us. He did what he thought was right and he reported out his findings. When his findings came out and said, yes, it's a coincidence; it's not any corrupt behavior, we never said or did another thing. That's government doing what it's supposed to do.
HENRY: But they went through 3.4 million e-mails and found nothing. It cost a lot of money, didn't it?
ISSA: First of all, they have the tools in government to go through 3.4 e-mails in a matter of hours on a keyword search, the same as you go through trillions of things when you do a Google search.
So let's understand. The I.G. has a budget; he lived within his budget; he did his investigation the way he thought he should do with no interference from Congress, only a letter saying we think you should consider looking at that.
They agreed — they actually agreed and expanded their investigation, but they did it without any interference. It was the Obama administration, because these people are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate — the Obama administration investigating itself and coming up with a legitimate finding that there was no wrongdoing in spite of the way it looked. That's government doing its job properly.