'American people have a right to know,' Issa proclaims
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
7/16/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa of California said administration claims that White House political director David Simas was immune from testimony were "absurd" and "deeply disturbing." Defying a subpoena, Issa has now set up a new high-profile fight between the White House and House Republicans.
Darrel Issa says that Simas' testimony was "critically important" to his investigation into whether the political office had violated the Hatch Act.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "The American people have a right to know if their tax dollars are being used for political activity," Issa said. Issa says that Simas' testimony was "critically important" to his investigation into whether the political office had violated the Hatch Act. The act forbids executive branch employees from engaging in partisan campaign activity.
However, it must be noted that Issa hasn't produced evidence of a specific instance of the White House violating the law. In his defense, Issa has pointed to abuses in the office that occurred under the Bush Administration to justify the subpoena.
"Mr. Simas' testimony is critically important and we are going to attempt to clarify whether or not President Obama intends to invoke Executive Privilege before considering our next course of action," Issa said.
Simas is reportedly "immune from congressional compulsion to testify on matters relating to his official duties" because doing so would threaten "longstanding interests of the Executive Branch in preserving the president's independence and autonomy." White House counsel Neil Eggleston stated this in a letter. Eggleston also noted that the White House had tried to accommodate the committee by providing a briefing between administration officials and committee staff on Tuesday.
White House staffers fielded more than 40 questions during the 75-minute meeting from Issa's staff. According to Eggleston, they "stayed until the Committee staff determined they had completed their questioning.
"Your hasty decision to subpoena Mr. Simas is all the more unfounded because the Committee has been unable to point to any indication" the White House broke the law, Eggleston wrote.
Issa said Wednesday that Congress does "not and should not need a smoking gun" to investigate the administration.
Issa says that the committee was justified in demanding testimony from a senior presidential adviser, pointing to when Democrats compelled Harriet Miers, the White House counsel to former President George W. Bush, to testify about allegations of the politically motivated firings of U.S. attorneys.
Issa also played a voicemail in which former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis solicited a campaign contribution while on the job. This, he felt, demonstrated that the Obama administration had previously run afoul of the Hatch Act.
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