September 13, 2012 (Washington, D.C.) — Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) named Rep. Darrell Issa (R-San Diego) as a Dishonorable Mention in its Most Corrupt Members of Congress report, an annual, bipartisan look at Washington’s worst. According to CREW, Rep. Issa illegally disclosed information from a sealed wiretap, then hid behind his constitutional protections as a member of Congress to avoid the consequences, earning him a spot in CREW’s latest report.
“Rep. Issa not only pursued a politically motivated witch hunt against Attorney General Eric Holder, he broke the law while doing it,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “Nothing better illustrates the American people’s disgust with Congress than a member like Rep. Issa who claims to defend the law, but then places himself above it to suit his political agenda.”
In June 2012, while the House debated whether to hold the attorney general in contempt of Congress over the botched Fast and Furious operation, Rep. Issa inserted material from a sealed wiretap application in the Congressional Record. Under federal law, wiretap applications cannot be disclosed without the permission of a judge, and those who violate the law can be held in contempt. Rep. Issa, however, knew that by inserting the information in the Congressional Record, he would be immune from prosecution under the Constitution’s Speech or Debate clause, which protects members of Congress for remarks and actions that fall within the legislative sphere.
“It’s unthinkable that Rep. Issa would abuse a constitutional protection afforded to members of Congress to shield his own clearly illegal conduct,” continued Ms. Sloan. “The Department of Justice and the House Ethics Committee should make clear they won’t stand for attempts to do an end-run around the law by conducting thorough investigations. Rep. Issa’s actions are all the more egregious given that he has urged more aggressive prosecution of those who leak confidential government information.”
This is the eighth edition of CREW’s Most Corrupt report, an annual look at unethical conduct by members of Congress. This year’s list includes seven Democrats and 13 Republicans; nine are repeat offenders. Since 2005, CREW has named 81 members of Congress to the list, 32 of whom are no longer in office. Rep. Issa is one of three members from California included in this year’s report.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org or contact David Merchant at 202.408.5565 or firstname.lastname@example.org