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.

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