Darrell Issa prepares echo chamber to blast Recovery Act

I’m proud to work with the Courage Campaign on the IssaWatch project where this was first posted.

As mentioned briefly on Monday, the Oversight Committee is gearing up for a Thursday morning hearing entitled “Waste And Abuse: The Refuse Of The Federal Spending Binge.” Over-capitalization and histrionics aside, the witness list marks Issa’s best attempt to date to assemble the ’27 Yankees of Obama administration critics to address the Oversight Committee.

It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise given Issa’s known ties to the broad network of Koch Brothers influence, but a number of the Koch’s heaviest hitters are represented here. Meanwhile, there’s no sign of anyone who might offer a perspective that doesn’t fit with Issa’s pre-established narrative of opposition to the Recovery Act.

The list of witnesses Issa’s assembled below the fold.

~ Gene Dodaro is the Comptroller General and head of the Government Accountability Office. The GAO is tasked with overseeing performance and accountability for the federal government. Dodaro is also currently in the middle of an Oversight investigation being spearheaded by Issa looking into whether the GAO destroyed evidence surrounding an amended report.

~ Dr. Veronique de Rugy of the Mercatus Center has a long track record of pushing deeply conservative perspectives on spending, budget, and other fiscal issues. Her criticisms of the cost of health care reform is currently cited on the Koch Industries website, and she’s such a favorite of the Kochs that she was among the featured speakers at the Koch network’s June meeting in Aspen, where she helped outline the master plan through the election and into the future.

She can help provide some of her own introduction by way of her personal disclosure: “I work for the Mercatus Center and Charles Koch is the chairman of our board and one of our main donors.”

But it goes much deeper than that. The Mercatus Center was founded by Rich Fink — an executive vice president at Koch Industries, former president of Koch Foundations and currently the president of the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. Fink also leads Koch Industries’ lobbying efforts in DC — which has spent more than $50 million to influence members of Congress in just the last five years according to the Center for Responsive Politics. And on and on.

In the years since Mercatus was founded, its host George Mason University has received more than $30 million from the Kochs.

~ Debra Cammer comes from IBM Public Sector. IBM put on a full court press in pursuit of ARRA funds, specifically around billions spent on providing the IT infrastructure to track and implement projects throughout the country. IBM put considerable resources into providing ‘bridge’ funding to help IT projects get off the ground and access ARRA support.

~ Vincent Frakes appears as the Federal Policy Manager at the Center for Health Transformation. This is a front-group for the health-care industry, insurance providers and other huge corporations used to oppose health care reform. It’s in his capacity at CHT that Frakes is also a featured member of the “Newt Team” — a network of organizational representatives that Newt Gingrich promotes for media appearances and speeches.

~ Also testifying is Thomas Schatz, President of Citizens Against Government Waste. That organization received particular attention back in 2006 from the Senate while they investigated the many crimes of Jack Abramoff. A Senate investigation found that Citizens Against Government Waste was among several organizations who played at the edge of the law with Abramoff:

The Senate report…states that the nonprofit groups probably violated their tax-exempt status “by laundering payments and then disbursing funds at Mr. Abramoff’s direction; taking payments in exchange for writing newspaper columns or press releases that put Mr. Abramoff’s clients in a favorable light; introducing Mr. Abramoff’s clients to government officials in exchange for payment; and agreeing to act as a front organization for congressional trips paid for by Mr. Abramoff’s clients.”

CAGW is also notorious for providing astroturf cover to a wide range of corporate interests — including big tobacco, Merrill Lynch and Exxon-Mobil.

~ Finally, Andrew Moylan is the Vice President of Government Affairs at the conservative National Taxpayers Union. The Kochtopus has provided thousands to the National Taxpayers Union over the years, and Charles Koch was once a member of the NTU board of directors. Like CAGW, NTU has also received tens of thousands from big tobacco.

And so, for two hours on Thursday morning, American tax dollars will be spent on a hearing brazenly designed to tell Darrell Issa that he’s right. It won’t explore the many benefits of Recovery projects, nor respond to the struggles of Issa’s own constituents here in California. Instead of working to create jobs, it will be a two-hour, taxpayer-funded party to implicitly criticize President Obama and his administration. But what we need is a plan. We need jobs. This isn’t that.

You can follow this project on Facebook and Twitter.

2 thoughts on “Darrell Issa prepares echo chamber to blast Recovery Act”

  1. First, I really appreciate the in-depth expose on all these cozy relationships. But I really, really appreciate your comment on the over-capitalization. It’s lonely being the only person I know who notices things like that.

Comments are closed.