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“Another Fringe Activitist”: Shock-Jock Publicity Seeker Darrell Issa’s Summer Fun Already Underway

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus was on “Fox & Friends” yesterday, fielding questions about various ongoing political controversies, when he said something interesting. In reference to the chairman on the House Oversight Committee, Priebus boasted, “I’ve got a good feeling that Darrell Issa is going to have quite a summer.”

As it turns out, Issa’s summer fun is already underway.

Several top aides to Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former secretary of state, are targets of the latest subpoena for information about the drafting of talking points after the siege last fall on an American compound in Benghazi, Libya.

Representative Darrell Issa, the California Republican who is the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, wrote in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry that the Obama administration’s refusal to cooperate fully with a House investigation left him “with no alternative but to compel the State Department to produce relevant documents through a subpoena.”

What do you know, it really is 1997 all over again — a far-right chairman of the House Oversight Committee, hoping to undermine a Clinton, is needlessly sending out subpoenas over a trumped up political controversy.

The attack on the U.S. outpost in Benghazi was a deadly national security crisis, which left four Americans killed, but the effort to create a political “scandal” has run its course. Indeed, it effectively ended a couple of weeks ago with the release of internal administration emails that helped prove that the White House’s claims were accurate; there was no cover-up; and Republican accusations are without foundation in fact. It’s reached the point at which House GOP staffers are mocking their own party’s nonsense on this issue.

So why is Issa issuing subpoenas to Clinton aides anyway? Largely because, as the chair of the Republican National Committee put it, Issa is eager to “have quite a summer.”

If this seems eerily familiar, there’s a good reason for that — Issa is following in Dan Burton’s footsteps.

Remember Burton and his wildly unhealthy hatred for President Clinton?

Burton was at his most famous in the 1990’s, when he led many of the investigations against President Bill Clinton. “If I could prove 10 percent of what I believe happened, he’d [Clinton] be gone,” Burton declared in 1998. “This guy’s a scumbag. That’s why I’m after him.”

Over the last six years of Bill Clinton’s presidency, Burton led the House Government Reform Committee and unilaterally issued 1,089 subpoenas to investigate allegations of misconduct. That roughly translates to an average of a politically-inspired subpoena every other day for six consecutive years, including weekends, holidays, and congressional recesses.

Burton once held hearings — for 10 days — on the Clintons’ Christmas card list. He ended up targeting 141 different Clinton administration officials with subpoenas, including at least one instance in which Burton and his staff were so reckless, they subpoenaed the wrong person (they were looking for someone with a similar name).

Burton also fired a bullet into a “head-like object” — reportedly a melon — in his backyard to test the theory that former White House counsel Vincent Foster was murdered.

Burton, of course, wasn’t just some shock-jock or publicity-hungry provocateur; he was the chairman of a congressional committee with oversight authority over the White House. And he wielded that gavel as if he were a fringe activist with a chip on his shoulder.

The Indiana Republican has since left Congress, but his legacy remains. Indeed, his successor on the House Oversight Committee is picking up where Burton left off.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 29, 2013

May 30, 2013 - Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , ,

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