By Miriam Raftery
September 19, 2019 (San Diego) – Retired Congressman Darrell Issa has said he will run against Rep. Duncan Hunter if his appointment by President Trump to head up the U.S. Trade and Development Agency is not approved by early November. But now, both Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee say that an FBI background file on Issa raises red flags.
Republican Chair Jim Risch says the committee won’t vote unless the White House makes the full FBI file available. Ranking Democrat Robert Menendez says the background file information is “problematic and potentially disqualifying” for Senate confirmation.
Issa claims the info is already public on Wikipedia and dates back to his time in the Army, when he got a bad conduct rating and demotion amid accusations that he stole a car from another soldier. “I have owned up to being a 17-year-old kid and not a very good private,” Issa said, the Los Angeles Times reports.
But according to Senator Menendez, Issa’s statement about the FBI’s findings is not truthful. “If they were all public, then we wouldn’t be having the difficulty that we have,” he said.
Issa’s Wikipedia lists additional legal problems he reportedly encountered after his discharge from the military:
“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 firearmin his glove compartment; Issa was charged with carrying a concealed weapon. He pleaded 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 later faced suspicion of arson after a company building he owned burned down. According to the Wikipedia entry:
“An investigation of the cause of the fire noted "suspicious burn patterns" with fires starting in two places aided by an accelerantsuch as gasoline. …Issa appeared to prepare for a fire by increasing the fire insurance policy by 462% three weeks previously, and by removing computer equipment holding accounting and customer information. St. Paul Insurance, suspicious of arson and insurance fraud, initially paid only $25,000, according to Issa.”
Issa was also once named among the top 10 most corrupt members of Congress by Citizens for Ethics Reforms in Washington, or CREW.
It is unclear whether the troubling information in Issa’s FBI background check relates to any of the incidents above, or to something else.
If the Republican-controlled Senate refuses to confirm Issa, a Republican, to the trade commission due to failing to pass an FBI background check, it begs the question: should voters consider this information disqualifying for Issa to be their representative in Congress, if he pursues his second choice option and runs in the 50thCongressional District?