“When I read the [mission] of the committee, I agree with every word of it. I just want to do it,” Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (Md.), the ranking Democrat on the oversight panel, said, referring to the committee’s broad investigative mandate. He added that the panel could be much more effective if Issa sought the cooperation of Democrats rather than striking out on his own.
Issa disputed that notion, saying that Democrats have been obstructionists.
“It’s for the majority to lead,” he said. “It’s for the minority to ask to be included, to work in an inclusive fashion. . . . My hand is out there and it’s open, but every time we’re doing an investigation which we determine is important, [Democrats] are there saying we shouldn’t be doing it.”
Issa has suffered at least one high-profile embarrassment. In March, he fired spokesman Kurt Bardella after it emerged that Bardella had leaked e-mails from journalists to a New York Times reporter working on a book about the culture of Washington.
The incident shed unflattering light on Bardella’s hyper-aggressive efforts to draw media attention to his boss, including the aide’s acknowledgment to the New Yorker magazine that his goal was “to make Darrell Issa an actual political figure.” Coincidentally or not, Issa has been less visible since then.
“I certainly thought he was going to be very aggressive and partisan. He was looking for news attention,” said Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), a former chairman of the oversight panel. “But he has lowered his profile. . . . I thought he would be a lot more visible than he has been to date.”
Issa said he has deliberately sought less attention for himself all year to draw more for the work of his subcommittee chairmen. But that doesn’t mean he has become shy.
“If we have an opportunity to drive the message, we go where we can drive the message,” he said. “That’s not going to change.”
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