"Jack's Story": Rep. Issa Uses Committee Resources To Promote Travails Of Major GOP Donor

May 12, 2011 10:34 am ET — Matt Gertz

On Monday, Rep. Darrell Issa's (R-CA) Oversight Committee released the first of what it termed "a three part video series detailing how government regulations impact Ohio small business owner Jack Buschur and his company, Buschur Electric Incorporated." According to the Committee video, "Red Tape & Recession Forced Jack to Lay Off 12 Ohioans" beginning in 2009.

In promoting Buschur's story, Issa's committee is again highlighting the complaints of a major GOP donor. While his company was shedding workers during the last election cycle, Buschur was giving more than $20,000 to GOP candidates for federal and Ohio state office. That total was nearly three times what he contributed for the 2008 election.

The video, featured on the Oversight Committee website, includes computer graphics and comments from Buscher and Issa. This raises the question of how much of the committee's time and funds were used to promote the supposed struggles of a major GOP donor.

According to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics and the National Institute on Money in State Politics, Buschur donated $20,450 to federal and state candidates in 2010, all Ohio Republicans. During the 2008 cycle, he donated $4,500 to federal candidates and $3,800 to state candidates, again all Republicans. Buschur's donations include:

  • $5,500 to Ohio governor John Kasich's 2010 campaign
  • $3,500 to Ohio secretary of state John Husted's 2010 campaign
  • $1,100 to Ohio treasurer Josh Mandel's 2010 campaign
  • $500 to Seth Morgan's 2010 campaign for State Auditor
  • $350 to Ohio attorney general Mike DeWine's 2010 campaign
  • $4,250 to the 2010 campaigns of various Ohio Senate and House candidates
  • $3,800 to the 2008 campaigns of various Ohio Senate and House candidates
  • $1,500 to House Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) 2010 campaign
  • $1,500 to Sen. Rob Portman's (R-OH) 2010 campaign
  • $2,250 to Rep. Jim Jordan's (R-OH) 2010 campaign
  • $3,000 to Rep. Jim Jordan's (R-OH) 2008 campaign
  • $1,500 to Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) 2008 presidential campaign

The company's economic travails did limit Buschur Electric to making only $400 in donations to the Ohio Republican Party during the 2010 cycle, down from $1,500 in 2008.

It is not at all unusual for Issa to use committee resources to provide a forum to GOP donors (typically his own). In fact, Buschur himself testified during the committee's February 10 hearing on "Regulatory Impediments to Job Creation," speaking on behalf of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB is a small business trade association whose political contributions overwhelmingly favor Republicans).

Interestingly, Buschur told his local newspaper that it was Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Buschur's congressman and a member of the Oversight Committee, who asked NFIB to "send some members to testify." Somehow, they ended up sending a major GOP donor who has given Jordan's campaigns a total of $8,850.

While the committee's press release blames both "byzantine government regulations" and the recession for Buschur's layoffs, Buschur did not attribute the drop to any particular cause either in the video or during his February testimony. The weak economy has savaged the construction industry, with the unemployment rate rising from around 8 percent in the summer of 2008 to nearly 22 percent at the time of Buschur's testimony.

Curiously for someone who Issa is depicting as a victim of red tape, when asked for an "area that you feel that we should really push in terms of regulations" at the February hearing, Buschur cited "project labor agreements." But earlier in his testimony, Buschur said that his company has "not personally been directly affected by PLAs over the last couple of years." You'd think he'd want them to put a stop to whatever regulations are supposedly forcing him to fire his employees.