Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-Calif.) office has dismissed an article in The New York Times about his work in Washington as a “hit piece.”
In a memo released Monday, Issa’s office slammed the article, which examined connections between Issa’s private business interests and his work as a congressional leader.
“The New York Times piece is riddled with factual errors and careless assertions that has resulted in a story predicated on innuendo and not fact,” said Frederick R. Hill, an Issa spokesman.
The Times article described Issa — chairman of the powerful House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that serves as a congressional watchdog — as having business and political interests that often overlap. In one instance, more than $800,000 in earmarks arranged by Issa was devoted to widening a street in front of a medical plaza he owns.
More than two dozen of Issa’s properties lie within two miles of federal infrastructure projects he has personally earmarked, the newspaper reported. Issa has also been outspoken on issues from financial reform to auto regulation in which he has strong vested financial interests.
Issa’s office said the Times overstated the value of the congressman’s holding companies and misrepresented the success of his nonprofit family foundation investments. The Times has since corrected the article to note that Issa’s companies are multimillion-, rather than multibillion-dollar enterprises.
The Times article also reported that House Ethics Committee officials looked into Issa’s business interests last year out of concern for potential conflict, but did not find enough evidence to proceed with an investigation.
Issa has served as a polarizing figure ever since taking the chairmanship of the Oversight Committee. Conservatives have largely praised his aggressive subpoenaing of the Obama administration, and solicitation of the business community’s input into regulation reform.
But Democrats have used Issa’s close ties to business — and a past that includes allegations of car theft and an arrest for carrying a concealed weapon — to question the Republican before.
“It’s the same old playbook, every time Darrell Issa starts gaining ground, the left-wing smear machine goes on the attack,” Hill said. “If anything, this story validates the work that the chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee is pursuing.”