Another GOP Donor Gets An Oversight Committee Platform

August 17, 2011 12:27 pm ET — Brian Powell

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) is taking heat this week from the New York Times, which highlighted the conflicts of interest between his duties as a public servant and as an engaged business leader. What may be worse, however, is how Issa and his committee continue to use taxpayer-funded committee resources to highlight the anti-regulatory special interests of major GOP donors.

The latest example is Andy Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants (Hardee's, Carl's Jr.), whose beefy contributions to Republicans in 2010 exceeded $56,000 of his own money, and whose CKE PAC served up thousands more. Last month, the Oversight Committee rewarded this generosity with an opportunity to testify on the record in the halls of Congress about what regulations Puzder thinks are bad for his profit margins.

Today, Issa's committee released a video, produced with taxpayer resources, in which Puzder feeds the public GOP sound bites about "job-killing" regulations and the Affordable Care Act. Puzder parrots criticisms from some of Issa's favorite crusades:

PUZDER: Right now, people are very concerned about taxes because the president keeps talking about raising taxes. So, it's very difficult to model taxes in a forecast, because people aren't sure whether they're going to go up or if they're going to stay where they are.

There's problems with, uh, the EPA and carbon regulation. There's problems with the NLRB and unionization, all of which could change your labor costs, your energy costs — the costs to heat or cool a building — the cost of, for food in our case, because we've got diesel trucks that deliver the food to the restaurant, and if the diesel fuel goes up because of a carbon regulation, then our costs are going to go up.

Health care is the — probably the most significant unknown at the moment. People are unsure how much it will impact their business, but they know it will be significant and they know it will be negative.

This is far from the first time Issa has used the committee to promote the agenda of Republican donors. In addition to an extensive pattern of enlisting donors to testify on Capitol Hill, Issa also used committee resources to produce a video series highlighting the policy agenda of Jack Buschur, whom the committee described as a "small business owner." In fact, he was a big Republican donor who spent over $20,000 in donations to federal and state Republicans in 2010.

The votes cast by average Americans provide a powerful voice for the middle class on Election Day. It's become quite clear, however, that for every other day of the year, participation in Issa's brand of governance requires a significant down payment.