Witch Hunt: Rep. Issa To Target Political Enemies In FCIC Probe

April 11, 2011 12:39 pm ET — Matt Gertz

Darrell Issa

A new report on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's inquiry into the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission indicates that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) is targeting his political foes while letting Republicans and the banking industry off the hook.

The FCIC released its final report on "the causes of the current financial and economic crisis" in January; none of the Republican appointees signed on to its conclusions, which were harshly critical of the financial industry. According to Investor's Business Daily, the "primary focus" of the Oversight Committee's investigation into the commission is the "the cozy ties and potential conflicts of interest between key Democratic commission members and trial lawyers suing banks on behalf of state employee and union pension funds."

In targeting Democrats, unions, and trial lawyers, Issa's committee is doing the work of the big banks that the commission partially blamed for the financial crisis. Indeed, the allegations detailed by an anonymous committee staffer in the IBD article largely rehash those offered in a January 10, 2010, Wall Street Journal article headlined "Businesses Criticize Cast of Inquiry Panel."

Issa will apparently be ignoring the "cozy ties and potential conflicts of interest" between Republican commission members and the big banks. And there are some doozies.

The commission's vice-chair was Bill Thomas, a longtime Republican member of Congress who is now a senior advisor in government relations for the law and lobbying firm Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney. According to its website, the firm's clients include "more than 75 percent of the largest commercial banks and financial institutions in the country."

And as Political Correction noted back in January, GOP commissioner Douglas Holtz-Eakin is president of the right-wing think tank American Action Forum. AAF's board includes Robert K. Steel, a longtime banker at Goldman Sachs who led Wachovia when the bank, on the brink of collapse during the financial crisis, was sold to Wells Fargo. AAF's board also includes Wendy Grubbs, a Managing Director at Citi Global Government Affairs. Holtz-Eakin helped found AAF while serving as a member of the FCIC.

In the January 2010 article, the Journal also reported that "The commission employs a number of lawyers who previously worked for law firms that typically defend corporations, including banks."

It is unfortunate, but not surprising, that Issa's response to the financial crisis has been to defend the banks and attack those who would dare to criticize them. Planning hearings to attack Republican political enemies is right up his alley.