Will Issa Investigate News Corp.?

July 14, 2011 11:01 am ET — Brian Powell

The tsunami of News Corp.'s phone hacking and bribery scandal is finally reaching U.S. shores. Bipartisan outrage in Congress is bubbling over in the wake of allegations that News Corp. was gathering fodder for stories by paying police officers for information and tapping into the voicemail accounts of the 9/11 attack victims. A conservative legal expert's analysis of what is publicly known about the case concludes that News Corp. may have violated federal law. Pressure is mounting for a government response, both from Congress and the Justice Department.

Yesterday, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) urged the FBI to look into the matter, and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) called on the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate. In addition, Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) sent a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) requesting that Issa's Oversight Committee investigate the matter. Braley wrote:

It has been reported that News Corporation and its subsidiaries may have bribed London police officers for information for use in newspaper articles, including information about high-ranking government officials. If true, these charges could be a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) that forbids bribery of foreign government officials by U.S.-based companies.

Additionally, News Corporation has already admitted to phone hacking in London, and I have concerns about allegations that hacking may have also extended to U.S. citizens. I ask that you investigate whether victims of the September 11, 2001 attack and other U.S. citizens had their cell phones targeted by News Corporation. Please look into the serious allegations that have been made against News Corporation. We owe it to the American public to find out if victims have been subject to criminal actions by News Corporation and its affiliates.

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has a duty to protect the privacy of Americans and to hold U.S. corporations accountable. I look forward to your response within ten business days regarding an investigation of News Corporation. Thank you for your consideration.

Issa has appeared on Fox News at least four times in the last week to promote Oversight hearings, but he has been quiet about News Corp. Although he has kept an open mind about investigating Fox News in the past, since Issa has taken the gavel, the Oversight Committee has largely focused on protecting the interests of big business. An investigation of News Corp. would be a significant change in direction.

Issa's staff did not respond to our request for comment.