Issa wants answers from Emanuel

The House investigative committee’s top-ranking Republican wants White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to answer for allegations that he used “Chicago-style scare tactics” to intimidate lawmakers who say the economic stimulus has failed.

In a letter sent to Emanuel on Tuesday, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee ranking member Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) demanded to know how involved the chief of staff was in an effort to “threaten” Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer after Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said the president’s Recovery Act was a failure.

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According to reports, Emanuel directed four Cabinet secretaries to send what Issa characterized as “threatening letters,” in which they asked whether Brewer preferred to “forfeit the money [they] are making available to Arizona,” in light of Kyl’s comments one day prior when he “publicly questioned whether the stimulus is working and stated that he wants to cancel projects that aren’t presently under way.”

The White House has yet to respond to The Hill's request for reaction.

The Senate minority whip made those remarks on the Sunday morning talk show "This Week with George Stephanopoulos." Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan sent similarly worded letters to Brewer the following day.

According to Politico, they did so at the direction of Emanuel. The White House chief of staff has until “close of business on Tuesday, Aug. 11" to respond to those allegations made in mid-July.

“The fact that the letters were coordinated by you to maximize the level of intimidation is supported by the timing, structure and content of each letter. Not only were the four letters all sent the day following Sen. Kyl’s remarks, but they were also remarkably similar in tone and sentence structure,” Issa wrote.

Further, Issa wants information on what role Emanuel played in writing or encouraging others to write those letters — “all communications between you and Secretary LaHood, Secretary Salazar, Secretary Donovan and Secretary Vilsack referring or relating to the decision to send the July 13 letters to Gov. Brewer.”

According to GOP committee sources, Issa has not asked for a formal investigation into the matter at this time.