By Jueseppi B.
Darrell Edward Issa (/ˈaɪsə/; born November 1, 1953) is the U.S. Representative for California’s 49th congressional district, serving since 2001. The district covers the northern coastal areas of San Diego County, including cities such as Oceanside, Vista, Carlsbad and Encinitas, as well as a small portion of southern Orange County. He is a member of the Republican Party.
He was formerly a CEO of Directed Electronics, the Vista, California-based manufacturer of automobile security and convenience products. The district was numbered as the 48th District during his first term and was renumbered the 49th after the 2000 Census. Since January 2011, he has served as Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Issa is a self-made millionaire with a net worth estimated at as much as $450 million, making him the wealthiest currently-serving member of Congress.
Early life, education, and military service
Issa, the second of six children, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to Martha (née Bielfelt) and William Issa, who sold trucks and grinded valves. His father was Eastern Orthodox and his mother was a Mormon. His paternal grandparents were Lebanese immigrants who both belonged to the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch known as the “Antiochian Orthodox” community and his mother is of German and Bohemian (Czech) descent. The family moved to the predominantly Jewish suburb of Cleveland Heights in the later years of his childhood. Many of his friends were Jewish, and Issa reportedly worked for a rabbi at one point. He became very familiar with Jewish culture.
Issa dropped out of high school, and on his 17th birthday he enlisted for three years in the Army. He became an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technician, trained to defuse bombs.
He said his unit provided security for President Richard Nixon, sweeping stadiums for bombs prior to games in the 1971 World Series. A May 1998 investigation by Lance Williams of the San Francisco Examiner said Nixon had not attended any of that year’s World Series games. His unit did perform security sweeps for the World Series. The investigation said that Issa was transferred to a supply depot after Issa received poor ratings and after the World Series. According to Issa, the Examiner reporter misunderstood an anecdote he had related. A fellow soldier, Jay Bergey, said that Issa stole his Dodge Charger in 1971, and that “I confronted Issa…I got in his face and threatened to kill him, and magically my car reappeared the next day, abandoned on the turnpike.” No charges were ever filed. Issa has denied any theft.
After receiving a hardship discharge in 1972, because his father had a heart attack, Issa earned a General Educational Development (GED) certificate.
Twice that year, he was arrested. In the first incident he was indicted by a grand jury for an alleged theft of a Maserati, but prosecutors dropped the charge. In the second incident, he was stopped for driving the wrong way on a one-way street, and a police officer noticed a firearm in his glove compartment. Issa was charged with carrying a concealed weapon. He pled guilty to a charge of possession of an unregistered firearm, and was sentenced to six months’ probation and a small fine. Issa has said he believes the record has since been expunged.
Issa attended Siena Heights University, a small Catholic college in Adrian, Michigan, followed by Kent State University at Stark, where he enrolled in the Reserve Officer Training Corps and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. Issa served in the Army Reserve from 1976 to 1980 and was promoted to the rank of captain. While serving on active duty for training with the 1/77th Armor Battalion as an Assistant S-1 from September 9 to September 26, 1980, he received an evaluation report by then-Lt. Col. Wesley Clark, who wrote “This officer’s performance far exceeded that of any other reserve officer who has worked in the battalion” and “Promote ahead of contemporaries. Unlimited potential.”
Shortly before his discharge, Issa was again indicted for grand theft auto, but Issa insisted he was innocent and by August, 1980, the prosecution dropped the case.
After leaving the military, Issa and his second wife, Kathy Stanton, moved back to the Cleveland area. They pooled their savings, sold their cars, and borrowed $50,000 from his family to invest in Quantum Enterprises, an electronics manufacturer run by a friend from Cleveland Heights that assembled bug zappers, CB radio parts and other consumer products for other companies. One of those clients, car alarm manufacturer Steal Stopper, would become the path to Issa’s fortune. It was struggling badly, and he took control of it by foreclosing a $60,000 loan he had made to it when its founder, Joey Adkins, missed a payment. Adkins remained as an employee.
Issa soon turned Steal Stopper around, to the point that it was supplying Ford with thousands of car alarms and negotiating a similar deal with Toyota.
But early in the morning of September 7, 1982, the offices and factory of Quantum and Steal Stopper in the Cleveland suburb of Maple Heights, caught fire. The fire took three hours to put out. The buildings and almost all inventory within were destroyed. An investigation of the cause of the fire noted “suspicious burn patterns” with fires starting in two places aided by an accelerator such as gasoline. Adkins said that Issa appeared to prepare for a fire by increasing the fire insurance policy 462% three weeks previously, and by removing computer equipment holding accounting and customer information. Adkins said that he thinks Issa set the fire on purpose. The insurance company was suspicious of arson and paid only about one-tenth the insured amount.
Reporter Ryan Lizza writes that the fire insurance was increased by Issa from $100,000 to $462,000 but that only about $45,000 was paid out: $25,000 at first and then an out-of-court settlement of about $20,000.
In September 2011, the liberal advocacy group American Family Voices filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics against Issa, alleging he had repeatedly used his public office for personal financial gain. Issa’s office rejected the allegations.
However, the year before that the Project on Government Oversight, a government watchdog group, awarded Issa with its Good Government Award for his contributions to government oversight and transparency. These included publicizing documents produced by the New York Federal Reserve Bank in response to a congressional subpoena, publicly exposing the New York Federal Reserve’s secret “back-door bailout” of AIG‘s counterparties, and cofounding a Transparency Caucus dedicated to “promoting a more open and accountable government through education, legislation, and oversight.”
Oversight committee Chair
After becoming Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Issa has become a vocal advocate for investigations into the Obama administration, including the Troubled Assets Relief Program, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, corruption in Afghanistan, WikiLeaks, and the Food and Drug Administration, among other issues. In 2010 he told the press that he wanted the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to hold investigative hearings “seven hearings a week, times 40 weeks.”
On February 16, 2012, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing on the Department of Health and Human Services’s regulation requiring insurance plans to cover birth control, which Issa believed was a violation of the religious freedom of people who oppose the use of birth control. Sandra Fluke was submitted as a witness by Democratic members, but Issa did not permit her to testify, saying that her name was submitted too late, a claim Democrats challenged.
In February 2011, the Watchdog Institute, an independent nonprofit reporting center based at San Diego State University, published an investigation alleging that as leader of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Issa built a team that included staff members with close connections to industries that could benefit from his investigations. The Huffington Post also published the Institute’s investigation.
Papantonio and Ed Schultz Discuss Darrell Issa’s Criminal Record
Uploaded on Jan 5, 2011
Congressman Darrell Issa, the man with the nerve to call the Obama Administration “corrupt,” knows a thing or two about corruption. After all, the man has been arrested at least 3 times over the years for things like possessing an illegal weapon and stealing cars. That’s right – the man in charge of investigations for the House is a former car thief. Watch as Mike Papantonio and Ed Schultz uncover Issa’s criminal past.
REPORT: Media Ignore Rep. Issa’s Alleged Criminal Past
By MATT GERTZ & ROB SAVILLO
Rep. Darrell Issa’s past includes arrests for weapons charges and auto theft, suspicions of arson, and accusations of intimidation with a gun, but you’d hardly know it from the media’s recent coverage of the new chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. While Issa was substantially mentioned in 15 articles in the nation’s largest newspapers since the last election — including several major profiles — only one of those articles mentioned any of these allegations. Likewise, interviewers did not ask Issa about his alleged criminal past in any of the cable or network interviews he sat for during that period.
Network and Cable Interviewers Won’t Ask Issa About Criminal Allegations
In 11 Interviews Since Election Day, No Network Or Cable Anchor Has Asked Issa About The Allegations Against Him.
Print Media Largely Overlooks Issa’s Alleged Criminal Past
Only One Of 15 Articles Substantially Mentioning Issa Referenced Any Of The Allegations.
The Real Issa: Suspected Arson
1982: Issa Suspected, But Never Charged, In Arson Incident At Manufacturing Plant. According to the Los Angeles Times: “A suspected arson fire ripped through [Issa's Ohio] manufacturing plant in 1982. No one was ever charged in the fire, but authorities were troubled by a dramatic escalation in the facility’s fire insurance just weeks earlier. Even before the blaze was put out, investigators began peppering Issa and his partner with ‘crazy questions’ regarding their whereabouts before the fire, Issa recalled.” [Los Angeles Times, 5/23/98, via Nexis, emphasis added]
- Prior To Fire, Issa “Boosted” Fire Insurance And Removed A Computer From The Premises. According to the Los Angeles Times: “Weeks before the fire, Issa and [business partner Miles] Hunsinger boosted their fire insurance from $ 100,000 to $ 462,000 on property stored for other companies…At the same time, a separate company that contracted with Quantum to outfit bug zappers increased its insurance to $ 400,000, and, according to an insurance report, one investigator was ‘concerned about the coincidence.’ Fire investigators also noted that a computer was taken off the site eight days before the fire, ‘allegedly to be reprogrammed’ by Issa’s lawyer, and that business blueprints were put away in a safe — which was ‘not previously done before.’” [Los Angeles Times, 5/23/98, via Nexis]
“Suspicious Burn Patterns” And “Out Of Normal Practice” Behavior Alerted Investigators. The Washington Post reported: “Investigators reported ‘suspicious burn patterns’ and said the fire may have been set. A company bookkeeper, Karen Brasdovich, also told them that computers and records had been removed from the site days before the fire for no clear reason. ‘It was totally out of normal practice,’ she said in a telephone interview last week.” [Washington Post via FTLComm.com, 7/8/03]
AC Custom Fire: Flammable Liquid Had “Been Poured On The Only Area Not Covered By Fire Sprinklers.” The Los Angeles Times reported that “seven months after Issa took control,” a fire broke out at the “Quantum manufacturing plant.” “Case files from Maple Heights, the Ohio fire marshal and insurers pointed repeatedly to the likelihood of arson in the blaze, which officials estimated caused $ 800,000 in damage. Although an accident could not be ruled out, the uneven and unnatural burn patterns made the blaze ‘suspicious in nature,’ the state concluded two months later. Flammable liquid appeared to have been poured on the only area not covered by fire sprinklers, investigators found.” [Los Angeles Times, 5/23/98, via Nexis, emphasis added]
The Real Issa: Intimidation With A Weapon
Former AC Custom Executive Claimed Issa Intimidated Him With A Gun.According to the Los Angeles Times: “One of Issa’s first tasks as the new boss [of AC Custom] was to remove an executive named Jack Frantz. According to Frantz, Issa came into his office, placed a small box on the desk and opened it. Inside, he said, was a gun.” [Los Angeles Times, 5/23/98, via Nexis]
- Issa Allegedly Used Intimidation To Fire Executive Frantz. According to the Los Angeles Times, Frantz claimed, “‘He just showed [the gun] to me and said ‘You know what this is?’ Issa invited Frantz to hold the gun at one point and told him he had learned about guns and explosives during his military days, Frantz said. Because he was about to be fired, Frantz said he saw it as ‘pure intimidation.’” [Los Angeles Times, 5/23/98, via Nexis]
- Former AC Custom Bookkeeper: “It Was Pretty Terrifying.” According to the Los Angeles Times: “The bookkeeper, [Karen] Brasdovich, also recalled Issa having a gun at the company that day. ‘It was pretty terrifying,’ she said.” [Los Angeles Times, 5/23/98, via Nexis]
Issa On The Incident: “Shots Were Never Fired.” The Los Angeles Timesreported: “Issa said, ‘Shots were never fired. If I asked Jack to leave, then I think I had every right to ask Jack to leave…I don’t recall having a gun. I really don’t. I don’t think I ever pulled a gun on anyone in my life.’” [Los Angeles Times, 5/23/98, via Nexis, emphasis added]
The Real Issa: Auto Theft & Weapons Charges
Issa “Twice Arrested In 1972 On Weapons Charges.” According to the San Francisco Chronicle: “Issa was twice arrested in 1972 on weapons charges — once in Ohio, once in Michigan.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 7/2/03]
Issa Was Convicted Of “Possession Of An Unregistered Handgun,” Paid Fine, And Served Probation. According to the San Francisco Chronicle: “[W]hen Issa was attending college in Michigan, was fined $100 and put on three months’ probation after being arrested for possession of an unregistered handgun, Michigan court records show.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 7/2/03]
1972: Issa Was Arrested For Auto Theft. According to the New York Times: “In 1972, [Darrell Issa] and his brother William were arrested in the theft of a Maserati from a Cleveland car dealership.” [New York Times, 7/23/03]
1972: Issa Also Charged With “Carrying A Concealed Weapon.” According to the San Francisco Chronicle: “Court records…show that in March 1972, one month after getting out of the Army, Issa was arrested on charges of carrying a concealed weapon and auto theft. The court file doesn’t indicate the type of weapon involved.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 7/2/03]
Auto Theft, Concealed Weapons Charges Were Ultimately Dropped.According to the San Francisco Chronicle: “In May 1972, a grand jury indicted Issa on a larceny charge in connection with the car theft but dropped the weapons charge. Two weeks later, a prosecutor dropped the car theft charge as well.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 7/2/03]
- Charges Were Dropped Despite Witness Reports. According to the Los Angeles Times, “a witness reported seeing [Darrell and William Issa] pushing the sports car down the street just before midnight, records and interviews show. But the charges were dismissed — months before the older brother, [William], was convicted of stealing another car amid a string of offenses.” [Los Angeles Times, 5/23/98, via Nexis]
Media Matters for America searched the Factiva database for news articles fromThe Wall Street Journal and the Nexis database for news articles from the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Postand all network and cable news programming* from ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News, MSNBC, and NBC between November 2, 2010 and January 10, 2011 for mentions of Darrell Issa. From cable, only interviews were included — news packages and short clips were excluded. From print, any article substantially mentioning Issa — beyond merely reporting his new position in Congress or other brief mentions — was included.
The original data is located here.
*ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox Broadcasting, and NBC transcripts include all news programming; Fox News and MSNBC transcripts include prime-time and select daytime interviews.
Thank you Media Matters.
Now….if Darrell Issa was a Black mas, a Woman or a person of poverty, would he now be a U.S. Representative For California’s 49th District?
Think Darrell Issa would be the Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, with his criminal background, had be been a Black mas, a Woman or a person of poverty?
You want a real scandal: No vote in 2 years on The American Jobs Bill, that would put millions of Americans to work.
You want a real scandal: No vote or solution on the Sequestration, which was created by Congress.
You want a real scandal: No vote on the Universal Background Checks bill…..that ends in a result that 91% of Americans want.
You want a real scandal: Lets all celebrate The 5 Month Anniversary Of 28 Deaths In Newtown, Connecticut By Doing Exactly What Congress Has Accomplished Since The Sandy Hook Elementary Massacre…… N.O.T.H.I.N.G. Jack Shit. Oh Wait…..My Bad…..Congress HAS Taken 4 Breaks in 151 Days Since 12/14/12.
You want a real scandal: Today, the 16th of May, 2013, A TeaTardedRepubliCANT House voted For The 37th Time To Repeal ObamaCares…229 to 195, at a cost of $55 Million to American taxpayers.
I’m sick and disgusted with Darrell Issa AND his muthafuckin ilk.
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