Political Correction

Rep. Issa's Disappearing FCIC Hearing

July 19, 2011 11:29 am ET - by Matt Gertz

Last week, a planned House Oversight Committee hearing into the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) was canceled less than 48 hours before it was scheduled to begin. FCIC chairman Phil Angelides had already flown into Washington from California when he heard the news.

The question is, why?

According to a spokesman for Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), "The hearing was postponed to allow time for further review and analysis of the material gathered by the committee." No new hearing date has been set.

Again, why?

Issa first announced an investigation into the FCIC nearly a year ago, based on allegations directed against its Democratic commissioners and staff. On January 3, Politico reported that Issa was planning to hold a hearing on the FCIC featuring Angelides. Are we to believe that six months was an insufficient period to prepare for this hearing?

On the day the hearing was to occur, the committee's Democrats released a damning 37-page report that pointed to partisan activity and conflicts of interest on the part of the FCIC's Republican commissioners. If the committee's minority was able to successfully review 400,000 FCIC internal documents in time for the hearing, are we to believe that the majority was incapable of doing so?

Or was the compilation and release of this Democratic report in fact the cause of Issa's decision to cancel the hearing? According to Talking Points Memo:

Peter Kadzick, an attorney for FCIC Chairman Phil Angelides, told TPM that Angelides arrived in D.C. on Sunday night for the Wednesday morning hearing but was told by an Issa staffer on Monday evening that "they had found some documents at the last minute that didn't fit the narrative."

The "narrative" Issa has laid out from the very beginning is that the commission's Democrats were acting in an unethical, partisan manner. But the Democratic report debunks those allegations and points to evidence of such behavior on the part of the commission's Republicans. Is that why the hearing was canceled?

It should go without saying that partisan activity and conflicts of interest on the part of FCIC commissioners is worthy of congressional oversight, regardless of which party is guilty. And yet, while Issa was happy to demand hearings and issue attacks when he thought Democrats on the Commission had acted improperly, he's nowhere to be found now that Republicans have been tarred with that brush.

Shouldn't these hearings go forward regardless of whose wrongdoing they expose?

The Democratic report states that a Republican commissioner's work was "guided by politics rather than fact-finding." It certainly looks like the same can be said of Issa's investigation.

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