Attorney General Eric Holder’s communications director is being accused of calling the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Republican staff and asking for help spinning a story. The twist? The GOP staff alleges that Holder’s spokesman thought he was talking to the Democrats.
Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) sent a letter to Holder on Monday about the incident, saying he was “extremely troubled” that the Justice Department may have been trying to coordinate with the minority staff on the release of documents to the committee regarding the Internal Revenue Service targeting certain political groups.
Issa’s letter claims that Brian Fallon asked for a specific committee aide and then told that person that he wanted to get materials to “interested reporters” before sending them to the majority, so that the agency could spin the story first.
Fallon, who previously worked on Capitol Hill for Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), told the Loop that he did call the committee Friday night and asked to speak with a particular person in the chairman’s office. But he declined to comment on Issa’s characterization of the call or whether he thought that person was a member of the Democratic staff.
“There is nothing inappropriate about department staff having conversations with both the majority and minority staff, as they prepare responses to formal inquiries,” Fallon said. “That includes conversations between spokespeople for the department and the committee.”
Fallon said the department intends to formally reply to Issa’s letter.
In the letter, first reported Tuesday by the Hill newspaper, Issa determines that the call is an indication of a “longstanding collaboration between the Obama administration and Ranking Member [Elijah] Cummings’ staff to obfuscate and prejudice the Committee’s work through under the table coordination.”
Becca Watkins, a spokeswoman for the oversight panel, emphasized that point in an e-mailed statement, saying Fallon’s alleged conspiring compromised the checks and balances of the federal government.
Issa also claims that upon realizing that he was talking to a Republican staffer, Fallon was “audibly shaken” and tried to recant his request to leak the documents early.
When Leon Panetta was head of the CIA, he had one loyal comrade who would never betray him.
To honor him, President Obama’s former CIA director invited him to pose together for Panetta’s official portrait. The oil painting, unveiled at the agency last week, is almost certainly the first to feature a pet — in this case, Bravo, Panetta’s golden retriever.
“I brought him to work with me in the director’s office,” Panetta told the Loop, “and he sat in on a lot of the briefings on the bin Laden raid and never leaked a word about what was going on.” (Well, that’s what Panetta thinks.)
Folks at the agency, probably thinking Bravo had clearance, would pet him as he wandered about during meetings in the office.
Bravo was there during tense times, when Panetta, who now runs the Panetta Institute for Public Policy in California, was facing “a lot of crises,” he said, “and he kept me grounded.”
“One of the greatest dangers of jobs in Washington is you lose your humanity, and people need to remember that,” he said.
Steven Polson, who did Panetta’s portrait and has done a couple dozen or more of Cabinet-level folks — including three former secretaries of state — told us that “this is the first one with a dog.”
Meanwhile, Panetta’s got a memoir coming out next month. “Worthy Fights” covers his whole D.C. career, from Richard Nixon’s administration (Nixon fired him) to the Obama White House.
Will it be a tell-all? Panetta demurred: “Hopefully people will learn some lessons about how to run the government. I’ve seen Washington at its best and at its worst, and there are some lessons to be learned. First and foremost, we have to elect leaders who want to govern.”
A new Broadway — well, off-Broadway — show about Washington’s best sex scandals? We’re sold.
“Tail! Spin!” is “drawn verbatim from the leaked e-mails, raunchy texts and telltale tweets that brought down politicians (and Loop favorites) Anthony “I Was Hacked” Weiner, Mark “Appalachian Trail” Sanford, Larry “Wide Stance” Craig and Mark “Underage Page” Foley.
Washingtonians, get your tickets. The play opens in previews Sept. 18 and closes Nov. 30 at the Lynn Redgrave Theater on Bleecker Street in the East Village.
The cast of five includes Rachel Dratch, who starred in “Saturday Night Live” from 1999 to 2006, and Tom Galantich, who played the soon-to-be-former president and first lady’s therapist and marriage counselor, the Rev. Thomas Larkin, in the second season of “House of Cards.”
Will they also pay homage to the godfather of it all, the late President Warren G. Harding, who, 10 years before he was elected, wrote some 900 pages of steamy letters to his lover and the wife of one of his friends?
“It racks in the tortures of aching hunger, and glows in bliss ineffable — bliss only you can give,” he wrote in the missives, recently opened to the public.
Surely Dratch and company can find some way to work in this great material?
Twitter: @KamenInTheLoop, @ColbyItkowitz