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Friday, April 1, 2011 



Think Progress Investigation Shows Oversight Chairman Secured nearly $1 million in Earmarks That Benefit His Personal Real Estate Holdings

Los Angeles:   After a Think Progress investigation revealed that House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa secured nearly $1 million in federal earmarks for improvements to a Vista, CA neighborhood where he has substantial real estate holdings, the 750,000 member Courage Campaign has called for Issa to reimburse taxpayers the $815,000 in federal money from which his personal business interests stand to benefit.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Darrell Issa is the wealthiest man in the U.S. House of Representatives, with a net worth estimated as high as $450 million.

“At a time when middle class families  struggle to make ends meet, and our government plans draconian cuts to programs that help the most vulnerable, it is outrageous for the wealthiest man in the U.S. House to  line his pockets at taxpayer expense,” said Courage Campaign Chairman and Founder Rick Jacobs.  “Darrell Issa should lead the effort to reduce waste, fraud and abuse by reimbursing taxpayers for the $815,000 in federal earmarks that enrich his family business.”

In 2008, according to Think Progress, Viper LLC—a real estate holding company operated by Issa’s family in which Issa owns a $25 million stake—purchased a commercial property at 2067 West Vista Way in Vista, California.  The property is located less than two miles from two of Viper LLC’s other multi-million dollar commercial properties.  Months after the purchase, Issa requested millions of dollars in earmarks to support highway improvements, construction of bus stops, parking lots, sewer and utility systems in the surrounding neighborhood.  All told, Issa secured more than $815,000 in taxpayer financed earmarks that could substantially increase the value of Viper LLC’s investment.

Issa’s personal interest in his own earmarks contradicts his 2007 letter to House colleagues, in which he said, “Constituents want to know that the project requests we make benefit our communities, our country, and don’t line our own pockets.” 

Though he has recently referred to the practice as “tantamount to a bribe,” Issa has requested hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarks since he took office in 2001, including millions of dollars benefiting two of his top campaign contributors.

Beyond his contradictory record on earmarks, Issa has been dogged by a number of other controversies since assuming the Chairmanship of the House Government Oversight Committee—including past arrests on car theft and weapons charges, ethical misconduct on his Congressional staff, refusing to disclose his meetings with lobbyists, and extensive ties between his committee staff right wing special interests, including billionaire financiers David and Charles Koch.   

Earlier this month, Roll Call reported that Issa regularly mixes his business and political work—going so far as to link the websites of his corporate entities and his political campaigns, and spending government resources to fly a Congressional staffer to a trade show at which Issa was tending to his private business interests.

The mounting controversies involving Issa have led fellow Republicans to begin openly questioning his leadership.  A former GOP Oversight staffer recently told Talking Points memo, “…there are people wondering what's going on over there. That's not healthy -- when you don't have the confidence of the members of your conference, it gets dicey."

“A pattern is emerging of Darrell Issa enriching himself by taking things that don’t belong to him, granting special access to well-connected interests, and holding himself to a lower standard of transparency and ethics than everyone else,” Jacobs added.  “It’s clear that the more people learn about Darrell Issa, the more he appears unworthy of the taxpayers trust, unfit for the responsibilities of his such an important leadership post, and a political liability for his colleagues in the GOP.”

The Courage Campaign is a California based, multi-issue online organizing network that empowers more than 750,000 grassroots and netroots supporters to work for progressive change across the country.  Courage holds politicians accountable, works for reform, and trains and organizes activists to change their communities.  Learn more at

Issa Watch is the Courage Campaign's national accountability project designed to hold Chairman Issa accountable for his record, rhetoric and performance as House Oversight Committee Chairman.  For more information, visit


Reader Discussion

The ole fox-guarding-the-henhouse trick. Isn’t $450,000,000 enough, Darrell, you hypocritical thief?

at 6:57 am on Sun, Apr 3, 2011Posted by Mark Tele

Why hasn’t the House Ethics Committee done their job and investigated Issa?

at 7:00 am on Sun, Apr 3, 2011Posted by Jillian Barclay

What a hypocrite!  Using the taxpayers to line your own pockets and then talking about oversight.  The fox is in charge of the hen house!

at 8:38 am on Sun, Apr 3, 2011Posted by Sandra Zylberman

Issa is nothing but a corporate whore. Same as the other un-American GOP buttheads including Pence, Ryan, Cantor, Boehner, McConnell, King, etal, etc, etc.

at 8:54 am on Sun, Apr 3, 2011Posted by Richard Johnson

He must love this kind of publicity.  There should be a Darrell Issa Cookie Jar cartoon.

at 9:10 am on Sun, Apr 3, 2011Posted by John Whittenberger

People like Issa and the crowd listed in a previous posting here by Richard Johnson are nothing but scum. They are types that our mothers taught us to avoid and whom decent societies scorned. They also have the nerve to say that we have to bring America back to the higher standards of a former time! Were that the case most of them would be facing misdemeanor and/or felony charges or be in jail already. What gall! The whole bunch of them are nothing but filthy pawns for large corporate puppet masters.

at 11:12 am on Sun, Apr 3, 2011Posted by Robert

Carnac says: Confessed car thief, corporate whore and embezzler of government funds . . .

The envelope says: Representative Darrel Issa

at 4:49 pm on Sun, Apr 3, 2011Posted by Richard L Adlof

let the scum know we wo’t put up with this.

at 6:11 pm on Sun, Apr 3, 2011Posted by Yvonne Barker

Not being in Issa’s district, this is what I can do.

at 8:11 pm on Sun, Apr 3, 2011Posted by Esward Craig

Thank you foor holding Darrel Issa accountable to the public in public.

at 4:48 pm on Mon, Apr 4, 2011Posted by Harry Grace

You are best i absolutely like your column accumulate it up
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at 12:15 am on Mon, Apr 25, 2011Posted by Lord

If Issa is so worried about money…then why has he donated his more than 200k a year for his last 11 years on the hill.
I love how people believe everything some jackass puts out there but really its a page like this trying to get free money and more then likley giving our email address away to make a buck.

at 8:33 am on Mon, Jul 4, 2011Posted by jw

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