Darrell Issa Subpoenas Top Obama Political Aide

The Oversight Committee chairman wants information about the political office the White House reopened earlier this year.

Darrell Issa listens during a meeting of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, which he chairs, on Thursday, April 14, 2011.
National Journal
Shane Goldmacher
July 11, 2014, 9:18 a.m.

House Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form Com­mit­tee Chair­man Dar­rell Issa said Fri­day he was sub­poena­ing a top ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial, Dav­id Si­mas, the dir­ect­or of the White House’s Of­fice of Polit­ic­al Strategy and Out­reach, and de­mand­ing that he testi­fy next week.

Issa, who has been one of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s fiercest crit­ics in Con­gress, has pressed the White House for more in­form­a­tion about the polit­ic­al of­fice that Si­mas runs since it was re­opened earli­er this year.

In a March let­ter to White House Chief of Staff Denis Mc­Donough, Issa wrote that the de­cision to re­open the polit­ic­al of­fice “height­ens con­cerns about the il­leg­al use of tax­pay­er funds to sup­port con­gres­sion­al cam­paigns dur­ing the 2014 midterm elec­tions.”

Ap­par­ently, Issa has been un­sat­is­fied with the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­sponses to his re­peated in­quir­ies for doc­u­ments and more in­form­a­tion. In a let­ter to Neil Eggle­ston, coun­sel to the pres­id­ent, dated Fri­day, Issa stated he was hold­ing a hear­ing next week and wrote, “I am left with no al­tern­at­ive but to use com­puls­ory pro­cess to re­quire Mr. Si­mas to ap­pear.” The hear­ing is sched­uled for Ju­ly 16.

Rep. Eli­jah Cum­mings, the top Demo­crat on the over­sight pan­el, wrote a let­ter to Issa Fri­day ur­ging him not to sub­poena Si­mas, call­ing it “an ab­use of au­thor­ity” as there has been “no evid­ence of any wrong­do­ing re­lat­ing to this of­fi­cial or the of­fice he dir­ects.” Cum­mings ac­cused Issa of go­ing on a “sub­poena binge,” not­ing Issa has is­sued more sub­poen­as than the three pre­vi­ous over­sight com­mit­tee chair­men com­bined ““ “in less than half the time.”

“Over the past sev­er­al weeks — ever since House Speak­er John Boehner took the Benghazi in­vest­ig­a­tion away from the Over­sight Com­mit­tee and trans­ferred it to the new Se­lect Com­mit­tee — you have been en­gaged in a sub­poena binge, is­su­ing more uni­lat­er­al sub­poen­as than at any point dur­ing your ten­ure, and all with no de­bate or votes by our Com­mit­tee,” Cum­mings wrote.

Issa left some wiggle room, writ­ing to Eggle­ston that if a brief­ing for the com­mit­tee by White House of­fi­cials leaves “no out­stand­ing ques­tions for Mr. Si­mas, I will re­con­sider wheth­er it is ne­ces­sary for him to ap­pear.”

If forced to at­tend the hear­ing, Si­mas would rep­res­ent one of the highest-rank­ing Obama of­fi­cials that Issa has com­pelled to testi­fy be­fore the House Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form Com­mit­tee.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 5071) }}

What We're Following See More »
Snowstorm Could Impact Primary Turnout
2 days ago

A snowstorm is supposed to hit New Hampshire today and “linger into Primary Tuesday.” GOP consultant Ron Kaufman said lower turnout should help candidates who have spent a lot of time in the state tending to retail politicking. Donald Trump “has acknowledged that he needs to step up his ground-game, and a heavy snowfall could depress his figures relative to more organized candidates.”

A Shake-Up in the Offing in the Clinton Camp?
2 days ago

Anticipating a primary loss in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Hillary and Bill Clinton “are considering staffing and strategy changes” to their campaign. Sources tell Politico that the Clintons are likely to layer over top officials with experienced talent, rather than fire their staff en masse.

Trump Is Still Ahead, but Who’s in Second?
1 days ago

We may not be talking about New Hampshire primary polls for another three-and-a-half years, so here goes:

  • American Research Group’s tracking poll has Donald Trump in the lead with 30% support, followed by Marco Rubio and John Kasich tying for second place at 16%. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton 53%-41%.
  • The 7 News/UMass Lowell tracking poll has Trump way out front with 34%, followed by Rubio and Ted Cruz with 13% apiece. Among the Democrats, Sanders is in front 56%-40%.
  • A Gravis poll puts Trump ahead with 28%, followed by Kasich with 17% and Rubio with 15%.
CNN Calls the Primary for Sanders and Trump
23 hours ago

Well that didn’t take long. CNN has already declared Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump the winners of the New Hampshire primary, leaving the rest of the candidates to fight for the scraps. Five minutes later, the Associated Press echoed CNN’s call.