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.