Tag Archives: CA-49

Analysis of 2012 California U.S. House Races

Now that the primary dust is settled and I have some time, I can present my analysis of the California districts this year. With top-two, we have some more interesting races to watch. With the lack of a write-in option in the November elections, I came up with a new safer-than-safe rating, “Guaranteed”. The outcomes will not be different from the “Safe” races, but I like having them separated, because some of the “Guaranteed” races will be interesting to watch.

California’s 1st congressional district: SAFE GOP

Geography: Northeastern corner of the state (Redding, Chico)

November ballot: Doug LaMalfa (R) vs. Jim Reed (D)

Senate 2010: Fiorina 58-31

Governor 2010: Whitman 53-37

President 2008: McCain 53-42

California’s 2nd congressional district: SAFE DEM

Geography: North Coast north of San Francisco (Eureka, Petaluma)

November ballot: Jared Huffman (D) vs. Dan Roberts (R)

Senate 2010: Boxer 62-29

Governor 2010: Brown 64-30

President 2008: Obama 71-25

California’s 3rd congressional district: LEAN DEM

Geography: Solano County and Southern Sacramento Valley (Davis, Fairfield, Yuba City)

November ballot: John Garamendi (D-inc) vs. Kim Vann (R)

Senate 2010: Fiorina 46-45

Governor 2010: Brown 50-43

President 2008: Obama 55-42

Description: Garamendi underperformed the previous incumbent Ellen Tauscher in both the 2009 special and the 2010 general in the old district, which was more Democratic than this one. Colusa County Supervisor Vann is also a serious candidate, having more cash-on-hand than Garamendi ($169K – $132K), though Garamendi spent more than 3.5 times as much as Vann ($895K – $244K).

California’s 4th congressional district: SAFE GOP

Geography: Placer County, eastern Central Valley

November ballot: Tom McClintock (R-inc) vs. Jack Uppal (D)

Senate 2010: Fiorina 59-32

Governor 2010: Whitman 55-38

President 2008: McCain 54-43

California’s 5th congressional district: SAFE DEM

Geography: Napa Valley

November ballot: Mike Thompson (D-inc) vs. Randy Loftin (R)

Senate 2010: Boxer 61-30

Governor 2010: Brown 63-31

President 2008: Obama 70-27

California’s 6th congressional district: SAFE DEM

Geography: Sacramento, West Sacramento

November ballot: Doris Matsui (D-inc) vs. Joseph McCray (R)

Senate 2010: Boxer 59-32

Governor 2010: Brown 66-28

President 2008: Obama 68-29

California’s 7th congressional district: LEAN GOP

Geography: Eastern Sacramento suburbs (Elk Grove, Rancho Cordova, Citrus Heights)

November ballot: Dan Lungren (R-inc) vs. Ami Bera (D)

Senate 2010: Fiorina 49-42

Governor 2010: Brown 49-44

President 2008: Obama 51-46

Description: This will probably be the race to watch in California’s congressional delegation. Lungren won a hard-fought race the last two cycles, and in 2010 Democrats picked up a State Assembly seat in this area, one of the few Democratic pickups that year. The district became slightly more Democratic, going from Obama by 0.5% to Obama by 5%. However, Lungren beat Bera by 12 points in June, so he has a small advantage.

California’s 8th congressional district: GUARANTEED GOP

Geography: Sierras and most of San Bernardino County

November ballot: Paul Cook (R) vs. Gregg Imus (R)

Senate 2010: Fiorina 57-32

Governor 2010: Whitman 52-36

President 2008: McCain 55-42

California’s 9th congressional district: LEAN DEM

Geography: San Joaquin County (Stockton, Lodi) and eastern Contra Costa County (Antioch)

November ballot: Jerry McNerney (D-inc) vs. Ricky Gill (R)

Senate 2010: Boxer 47-44

Governor 2010: Brown 51-42

President 2008: Obama 56-41

Description: Republicans landed a top recruit in Gill to face McNerney, who has had a history of tough races. This district became slightly more Democratic than the old one, voting for Boxer and Brown. Gill could use McNerney’s recent move to Stockton from Pleasanton in the Bay Area to his advantage, and has argued that McNerney has not been an effective San Joaquin County representative. This will be a race to watch, though due to this district being slightly more Democratic than the old CA-11, I give McNerney a small edge.

California’s 10th congressional district: LIKELY GOP

Geography: Stanislaus County and southwestern San Joaquin County

November ballot: Jeff Denham (R-inc) vs. Jose Hernandez (D)

Senate 2010: Fiorina 52-39

Governor 2010: Whitman 49-44

President 2008: Obama 50-47

Description: Denham’s weak performance in June was surprising, considering his history of big margins in similar districts, though that may be due to nonpartisan candidate Chad Condit (son of former conservative Democrat congressman Gary Condit).

California’s 11th congressional district: SAFE DEM

Geography: Contra Costa County (Richmond, Walnut Creek, Concord)

November ballot: George Miller (D-inc) vs. Virginia Fuller (R)

Senate 2010: Boxer 60-34

Governor 2010: Brown 61-34

President 2008: Obama 69-28

California’s 12th congressional district: SAFE DEM

Geography: San Francisco

November ballot: Nancy Pelosi (D-inc) vs. John Dennis (R)

Senate 2010: Boxer 76-14

Governor 2010: Brown 78-16

President 2008: Obama 84-13

California’s 13th congressional district: SAFE DEM

Geography: Berkeley, Oakland

November ballot: Barbara Lee (D-inc) vs. Marilyn Singleton (NPP)

Senate 2010: Boxer 83-11

Governor 2010: Brown 84-11

President 2008: Obama 87-10

California’s 14th congressional district: SAFE DEM

Geography: South San Francisco, Daly City, San Mateo, Redwood City

November ballot: Jackie Speier (D-inc) vs. Debbie Bacigalupi (R)

Senate 2010: Boxer 66-27

Governor 2010: Brown 66-28

President 2008: Obama 73-24

California’s 15th congressional district: GUARANTEED DEM

Geography: Southern East Bay (Hayward, Livermore, San Ramon)

November ballot: Pete Stark (D-inc) vs. Eric Swalwell (D)

Senate 2010: Boxer 59-34

Governor 2010: Brown 59-35

President 2008: Obama 67-30

Description: For once, we have a race to watch in a safe district, with delegation dean Stark against fellow Democrat Swalwell. Stark has had a series of gaffes, and Swalwell gained the endorsements of the San Francisco Chronicle and Bay Area Newsgroup. Swalwell also hails from a part of the district that is new to Stark, the Tri-Valley area. Will term 20 be Stark’s last term?

California’s 16th congressional district: LIKELY DEM

Geography: Fresno, Madera, Merced

November ballot: Jim Costa (D-inc) vs. Brian Whelan (R)

Senate 2010: Fiorina 47-43

Governor 2010: Brown 50-42

President 2008: Obama 57-40

Description: Costa traded the Kern and Kings portions of his old district for Madera and Merced. He should be fine if he takes the race seriously, unlike last time.

California’s 17th congressional district: SAFE DEM

Geography: Silicon Valley (Fremont, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale)

November ballot: Mike Honda (D-inc) vs. Evelyn Li (R)

Senate 2010: Boxer 63-29

Governor 2010: Brown 61-34

President 2008: Obama 69-28

California’s 18th congressional district: SAFE DEM

Geography: Silicon Valley (Menlo Park, Palo Alto, San Jose)

November ballot: Anna Eshoo (D-inc) vs. David Chapman (R)

Senate 2010: Boxer 61-32

Governor 2010: Brown 60-35

President 2008: Obama 70-27

California’s 19th congressional district: SAFE DEM

Geography: San Jose

November ballot: Zoe Lofgren (D-inc) vs. Robert Murray (R)

Senate 2010: Boxer 61-31

Governor 2010: Brown 60-25

President 2008: Obama 70-27

California’s 20th congressional district: SAFE DEM

Geography: Northern Central Coast (Monterey, Salinas, Santa Cruz)

November ballot: Sam Farr (D-inc) vs. Jeff Taylor (R)

Senate 2010: Boxer 61-31

Governor 2010: Brown 63-31

President 2008: Obama 71-26

California’s 21st congressional district: LIKELY GOP

Geography: Southern Central Valley (Hanford, Bakersfield)

November ballot: John Hernandez (D) vs. David Valadao (R)

Senate 2010: Fiorina 50-40

Governor 2010: Brown 48-44

President 2008: Obama 52-46

Description: With the Democrats’ two best candidates, Michael Rubio and Dean Florez, not running and Valadao winning a majority of the vote in the first round, this district is very likely to go Republican.

California’s 22nd congressional district: SAFE GOP

Geography: Fresno, Visalia

November ballot: Devin Nunes (R-inc) vs. Otto Lee (D)

Senate 2010: Fiorina 63-30

Governor 2010: Whitman 59-35

President 2008: McCain 55-42

California’s 23rd congressional district: SAFE GOP

Geography: Kern County (Bakersfield)

November ballot: Kevin McCarthy (R-inc) vs. Terry Phillips (NPP)

Senate 2010: Fiorina 64-26

Governor 2010: Whitman 58-33

President 2008: McCain 61-36

California’s 24th congressional district: LEAN DEM

Geography: San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties

November ballot: Lois Capps (D-inc) vs. Abel Maldonado (R)

Senate 2010: Fiorina 46-45

Governor 2010: Brown 47-46

President 2008: Obama 56-41

Description: This was probably the toughest race for me to rate, between lean Dem and toss-up. Capps gets back her old district from the 90s that was marginal (including voting for Bob Dole in 1996) and that she won close races in. Capps is more entrenched now than she was in the 90s, but I don’t think she is used to serious campaigning after five non-competitive races. In addition, Maldonado represented this area in the state legislature, though he is not liked by the party base and could be hammered on taxes. I decided to give Capps a few more points due to being entrenched, though this race could become a toss-up again if there are any new developments.

California’s 25th congressional district: SAFE GOP

Geography: Palmdale, Santa Clarita, Simi Valley

November ballot: Buck McKeon (R-inc) vs. Lee Rogers (D)

Senate 2010: Fiorina 54-37

Governor 2010: Whitman 52-39

President 2008: Obama 49-48

California’s 26th congressional district: TOSS-UP

Geography: Ventura County (Oxnard, Moorpark, Thousand Oaks)

November ballot: Julia Brownley (D) vs. Tony Strickland (R)

Senate 2010: Fiorina 47-45

Governor 2010: Whitman 47-46

President 2008: Obama 56-41

Description: Democrats suffered a setback when County Supervisor Steve Bennett dropped out in February and recruited Assemblywoman Brownley. A Santa Monica-area rep would be an awkward fit for a Ventura County district, but Strickland has had many close races himself. It is unknown who the supporters of nonpartisan candidate Linda Parks will go to in November.

California’s 27th congressional district: SAFE DEM

Geography: Pasadena, Monterey Park, Alhambra

November ballot: Judy Chu (D-inc) vs. Jack Orswell (R)

Senate 2010: Boxer 54-39

Governor 2010: Brown 55-39

President 2008: Obama 61-36

California’s 28th congressional district: SAFE DEM

Geography: Glendale, Burbank

November ballot: Adam Schiff (D-inc) vs. Phil Jennerjahn (R)

Senate 2010: Boxer 63-30

Governor 2010: Brown 63-30

President 2008: Obama 70-26

California’s 29th congressional district: SAFE DEM

Geography: Eastern San Fernando Valley

November ballot: Tony Cardenas (D) vs. David Hernandez (NPP)

Senate 2010: Boxer 67-24

Governor 2010: Brown 68-24

President 2008: Obama 74-23

California’s 30th congressional district: GUARANTEED DEM

Geography: Western San Fernando Valley

November ballot: Howard Berman (D-inc) vs. Brad Sherman (D-inc)

Senate 2010: Boxer 57-35

Governor 2010: Brown 57-36

President 2008: Obama 66-31

Description: This is the same-party race to watch, a clash of the titans if you will. Berman has the Hollywood establishment, while Sherman has more local endorsements, as well as Bill Clinton. Sherman has also been more visible in the area, and got more votes than Berman in June. As far as Republican/conservative outreach goes, Berman has the support of former mayor Richard Riordan, DA Steve Cooley, and county supervisor Mike Antonovich, while CPA and former Board of Equalization (the state’s tax board) member Sherman voted against TARP in 2008.

California’s 31st congressional district: GUARANTEED GOP

Geography: Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino, Redlands

November ballot: Bob Dutton (R) vs. Gary Miller (R-inc)

Senate 2010: Boxer 46-44

Governor 2010: Brown 49-41

President 2008: Obama 56-41

Description: This is the only race where top-two cost a party a chance at a pickup. I hope this missed opportunity teaches Democrats a lesson to be more disciplined when it comes to candidates. As far as November goes, the combination of familiarity among locals and no scandals should give Dutton a comfortable edge.

California’s 32nd congressional district: SAFE DEM

Geography: San Gabriel Valley

November ballot: Grace Napolitano (D-inc) vs. David Miller (R)

Senate 2010: Boxer 55-36

Governor 2010: Brown 57-35

President 2008: Obama 62-35

California’s 33rd congressional district: SAFE DEM

Geography: West Side L.A., Beach Cities, Palos Verdes

November ballot: Henry Waxman (D-inc) vs. Bill Bloomfield (NPP)

Senate 2010: Boxer 55-39

Governor 2010: Brown 54-40

President 2008: Obama 64-32

California’s 34th congressional district: SAFE DEM

Geography: Downtown L.A.

November ballot: Xavier Becerra (D-inc) vs. Steven Smith (R)

Senate 2010: Boxer 75-16

Governor 2010: Brown 76-16

President 2008: Obama 77-19

California’s 35th congressional district: GUARANTEED DEM

Geography: Inland Empire (Pomona, Fontana, Ontario)

November ballot: Joe Baca (D-inc) vs. Gloria Negrete-McLeod (D)

Senate 2010: Boxer 56-34

Governor 2010: Brown 58-33

President 2008: Obama 64-32

Description: Another same-party race to watch, with McLeod challenging Baca from the left. McLeod has represented Pomona and Chino, which are not familiar to Baca, and held him under 50% despite establishment backing.

California’s 36th congressional district: SAFE GOP

Geography: Riverside County

November ballot: Mary Bono Mack (R-inc) vs. Raul Ruiz (D)

Senate 2010: Fiorina 51-42

Governor 2010: Whitman 50-43

President 2008: Obama 50-47

Description: Bono Mack had a closer-than-usual race in 2010 due to a third-party conservative. Now with a more Republican district she should be able to breathe easier.

California’s 37th congressional district: GUARANTEED DEM

Geography: Crenshaw, Culver City

November ballot: Karen Bass (D-inc)

Senate 2010: Boxer 79-14

Governor 2010: Brown 79-15

President 2008: Obama 84-13

California’s 38th congressional district: SAFE DEM

Geography: Norwalk, Lakewood, Whittier

November ballot: Linda Sánchez (D-inc) vs. Ben Campos (R)

Senate 2010: Boxer 55-35

Governor 2010: Brown 57-35

President 2008: Obama 61-35

California’s 39th congressional district: SAFE GOP

Geography: Fullerton, Yorba Linda, Diamond Bar, Chino Hills

November ballot: Ed Royce (R-inc) vs. Jay Chen (D)

Senate 2010: Fiorina 55-37

Governor 2010: Whitman 54-38

President 2008: McCain 49-47

California’s 40th congressional district: GUARANTEED DEM

Geography: Downey, Bellflower, Bell Gardens

November ballot: Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-inc) vs. David John Sanchez (D)

Senate 2010: Boxer 72-18

Governor 2010: Brown 73-19

President 2008: Obama 77-19

California’s 41st congressional district: TOSS-UP

Geography: Riverside, Moreno Valley

November ballot: Mark Takano (D) vs. John Tavaglione (R)

Senate 2010: Boxer 49-42

Governor 2010: Brown 52-40

President 2008: Obama 59-40

Description: This new Riverside seat will probably be the SoCal race to watch. On paper it should go Democratic, but Republicans have historically fared well in Riverside races. However, I haven’t been able to find any old Riverside districts as Democratic as this, so this district is uncharted territory for both parties.

California’s 42nd congressional district: SAFE GOP

Geography: Corona, Murrieta, Lake Elsinore

November ballot: Ken Calvert (R-inc) vs. Michael Williamson (D)

Senate 2010: Fiorina 60-33

Governor 2010: Whitman 56-35

President 2008: McCain 54-43

California’s 43rd congressional district: GUARANTEED DEM

Geography: Inglewood, Hawthorne

November ballot: Maxine Waters (D-inc) vs. Bob Flores (D)

Senate 2010: Boxer 68-23

Governor 2010: Brown 69-24

President 2008: Obama 75-22

Description: Flores got a third of the vote in the primary, so this may be a race to watch to see if Waters’ ethics issues finally catch up to her.

California’s 44th congressional district: GUARANTEED DEM

Geography: Carson, Compton, Long Beach, San Pedro

November ballot: Janice Hahn (D-inc) vs. Laura Richardson (D-inc)

Senate 2010: Boxer 76-15

Governor 2010: Brown 77-15

President 2008: Obama 81-16

Description: The other incumbent-vs.-incumbent race has much less drama. Like in June, Hahn should easily get more votes than scandal-tainted Richardson.

California’s 45th congressional district: SAFE GOP

Geography: Central Orange County (Irvine, Tustin, Mission Viejo)

November ballot: John Campbell (R-inc) vs. Sukhee Kang (D)

Senate 2010: Fiorina 60-33

Governor 2010: Whitman 59-34

President 2008: McCain 51-46

California’s 46th congressional district: SAFE DEM

Geography: North Central Orange County (Anaheim, Santa Ana)

November ballot: Loretta Sanchez (D-inc) vs. Jerry Hayden (R)

Senate 2010: Boxer 49-40

Governor 2010: Brown 50-40

President 2008: Obama 58-39

California’s 47th congressional district: LEAN DEM

Geography: Long Beach, Garden Grove

November ballot: Gary DeLong (R) vs. Alan Lowenthal (D)

Senate 2010: Boxer 50-42

Governor 2010: Brown 50-42

President 2008: Obama 58-39

Description: This should be a comfortable Democratic win, but Lowenthal’s until-recently lackluster fundraising and opposition to high-speed rail funds for the Central Valley has Democrats concerned. DeLong is also a serious contender, with strong backing from the NRCC.

California’s 48th congressional district: SAFE GOP

Geography: Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach

November ballot: Dana Rohrabacher (R-inc) vs. Ron Varasteh (D)

Senate 2010: Fiorina 58-35

Governor 2010: Whitman 58-35

President 2008: McCain 51-46

Californias’ 49th congressional district: SAFE GOP

Geography: Dana Point, San Clemente, Oceanside, Carlsbad

November ballot: Darrell Issa (R-inc) vs. Jerry Tetalman (D)

Senate 2010: Fiorina 56-36

Governor 2010: Whitman 55-37

President 2008: Obama 49-48

California’s 50th congressional district: SAFE GOP

Geography: Temecula, San Diego County (Escondido, Santee)

November ballot: Duncan D. Hunter (R-inc) vs. David B. Secor (D)

Senate 2010: Fiorina 63-28

Governor 2010: Whitman 61-31

President 2008: McCain 58-39

California’s 51st congressional district: SAFE DEM

Geography: Imperial County, San Diego (Chula Vista, Imperial Beach)

November ballot: Michael Crimmins (R) vs. Juan Vargas (D)

Senate 2010: Boxer 57-32

Governor 2010: Brown 58-31

President 2008: Obama 65-32

California’s 52nd congressional district: LEAN GOP

Geography: Coronado, Poway, San Diego

November ballot: Brian Bilbray (R-inc) vs. Scott Peters (D)

Senate 2010: Fiorina 50-42

Governor 2010: Whitman 50-43

President 2008: Obama 54-43

Description: This district is less Republican than the old CA-50, though Bilbray isn’t new to swingy districts having represented the old CA-49 in the 90s. Peters made it to the November ballot in spite of a nasty primary fight with the more liberal Saldana.

California’s 53rd congressional district: SAFE DEM

Geography: San Diego, Lemon Grove, El Cajon

November ballot: Susan Davis (D-inc) vs. Nick Popaditch (R)

Senate 2010: Boxer 51-40

Governor 2010: Brown 52-40

President 2008: Obama 60-36

Overall, here are my ratings for the congressional races.

Guaranteed DEM: 7

Safe DEM: 21

Likely DEM: 1

Lean DEM: 4

Toss-Up: 2

Lean GOP: 2

Likely GOP: 2

Safe GOP: 12

Guaranteed GOP: 2

If my ratings pan out, the best Democrats can do (holding all their Guaranteed, Safe, Likely, and Lean seats and winning both toss-ups) is 35-18 and the best Republicans can do is 33-20.

Districts I’m watching: CA-03, CA-07, CA-09, CA-15, CA-24, CA-26, CA-30, CA-35, CA-41, CA-43, CA-47, CA-52

Darrell Issa bails on FCIC hearing after reality “didn’t fit the narrative”

With no warning or fanfare, today's scheduled Oversight subcommittee hearing on the Financial Crisis Inquiry Committee was cancelled earlier this week. But a picture is beginning to emerge as to what went wrong for Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa and why the plug was pulled.

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."

And a devastating new report (pdf) from committee Democrats found that those documents didn't just not "fit the narrative," but outright refuted them. Ranking committee Democrat Elijah "Cummings's report, which is based on 400,000 internal Commission emails, memos and other documents, finds that Chairman Issa's allegations are largely unsubstantiated.  

In contrast, the documents suggest that Republican Commissioners geared their efforts on the Commission toward helping House Republicans in their campaign to repeal the Dodd-Frank Act, rather than determining the facts that led to the economic crisis. The report also raises a host of new ethical questions about Republican Commissioners and staff, including evidence that they leaked confidential information to outside parties on multiple occasions."

If the hearing had been cancelled on Monday, it didn't slow Issa down Tuesday. Issa was on Twitter yesterday enthusiastically pushing attacks on the FCIC's findings, specifically from Republican FCIC member Peter Wallison. But the report from committee Democrats highlights a number of credibility problems for Wallison and other FCIC Republicans who dissented from its findings and have fueled Issa's pursuit. As Media Matters breaks down:

  • Wallison repeatedly sent emails to his GOP colleagues on the committee urging that their dissents not "undermine the ability of the new House GOP to modify or repeal Dodd-Frank."
  • Despite claims to the contrary that Wallison made in congressional testimony, the FCIC extensively reviewed his position that the economic crisis was caused by government housing policies, with all eight other commissioners rejecting that view.
  • Wallison was criticized by the FCIC's general counsel after leaking confidential commission documents to a colleague at the American Enterprise Institute in violation of the commission's ethics policy.
  • Republican vice chairman Bill Thomas and his staff provided an economic and political consultant who works at Thomas' law firm — which represents major banks — with a wide array of internal documents, in violation of the commission's ethics policy.

This isn't the first time that we've seen this sort of thing from the FCIC Republicans. Last year, they all voted to ban the terms "Wall Street," "shadow banking," "interconnection," and "deregulation" from the final FCIC report, and several of the committee Republicans had well-established conflicts of interest. But Issa has consistently criticized the FCIC findings, demanding a wide range of emails and other records because, as an Issa spokesperson explained, "Mr Issa says he wants to check that taxpayers got value for money in the investigation and to examine any potential conflicts of interest." Today's new report suggests a wide range of potential conflicts of interest, ethics violations, and congressional testimony that may have been purposely false, but the hearing is cancelled.

In the previous six months, Issa and other committee Republicans have repeatedly accused officials in the Obama administration of perjury or intent to commit perjury for as much or less than is included in this report. Issa's own staff released a sealed document in an ongoing federal criminal investigation, violating a court order. Now equipped with well-documented analysis of sweeping concerns over the behavior of Republican FCIC members, what will Issa do?

Immediately following the election last November that swept Republicans into a House Majority, Issa pledged to investigate financial issues regardless of party or partisanship. And he gave an interview in which he declared tougher standards for Wall Street:

Wall Street will have to accept a new level of scrutiny and demands for transparency for how they make decisions and the impact those decisions have on the economy. Main Street will hopefully benefit from this new degree of openness and accountability and I will continue to fight for their right to know.

Main Street's right to know relies on the accountability that the Oversight Committee exists to provide. If there were multiple ethics violations, inaccurate statements in Congressional testimony, and direct efforts of FCIC members to aid congressional Republicans, it strains credulity to imagine that the final report and its impact haven't been undermined to an important degree. It's the responsibility of Issa and the Oversight Committee to find out.

Issa recently said that he wanted to do more and better after his first six months running the Oversight Committee. In light of the revelations in this new report, the FCIC hearing could have been among of the most substantive and important of Issa's tenure. Instead, because reality "didn't fit the narrative," the hearing has been called off and thus far not rescheduled. Hopefully Issa will not dodge the issue entirely because it doesn't fit the narrative.

I’m proud to manage the IssaWatch project from which this is cross-posted with light edits. You can also follow on Twitter and Facebook.

Darrell Issa stocked up on Goldman Sachs bonds while blocking investigation

Darrell Issa is back in hot water for using his powerful Congressional perch to help his personal investments. A new report out today from Think Progress finds that Issa was busy last year buying up Goldman Sachs High Yield Bonds worth up to $50,000 a pop while pressing strongly to thwart an SEC investigation into potential wrongdoing at Goldman Sachs:

Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) raised hell last year to stop the federal government from investigating Goldman Sachs regarding allegations that the company defrauded investors. In April 2010, shortly after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced a civil suit against Goldman Sachs, Issa sent a letter to SEC Chairwoman Mary Schapiro demanding to know if there was “any sort of prearrangement, coordination, direction from, or advance notice” between the SEC and the Obama administration or congressional Democrats over the timing of the lawsuit.

Issa’s investigation of the SEC’s investigation into Goldman Sachs stole the headlines and reinforced Goldman Sachs’ claim that they had done nothing wrong. Explaining his defense of Goldman Sachs, Issa said he was representing the views of ordinary Americans who are worried about the “growth of government and the growth of government wanting to become more complex, with more agencies and more control over our lives.”

This sheds additional light on Iss’s engagement in financial issues since taking over the Oversight Committee earlier this year, specifically reinforcing his strong resistance to any investigation or hearing that might reflect poorly on private financial institutions.

Issa has continued to bring heat on the SEC since taking over the Oversight Committee, targeting the Commission with one of the first subpoenas issued. The focus of his concern? Potential conflict of interest at the SEC arising from personal investments related to ongoing investigations. Of course.

But there’s much more…

Last month, subcommittee chair Patrick McHenry — bankrolled predominantly by the private financial industry — grilled Professor Elizabeth Warren for hours over the soon-to-launch Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, ending with McHenry accusing Professor Warren of perjury. Issa has strongly backed McHenry’s behavior, and Warren will be back to testify again on July 14th.

Issa has also targeted the bi-partisan Federal Crisis Inquiry Commission despite a miniscule budget after it assigned some blame for the financial meltdown to Wall Street.

Despite representing one of the districts hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis, Issa has consistently refused to pursue private financial institutions in his investigations into ongoing economic turmoil, and Issa had made increasingly outlandish excuses as he has refused four separate requests from ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings to issue subpoenas to major mortgage banks implicated in fraudulent foreclosure practices.

Since Issa has previously shown no compunction about personally profiting from what he does as a member of Congress, and we know that Issa prefers to stack his hearings with personal friends and campaign contributors, today’s revelations go straight to the heart of Issa’s credibility in all of these investigations and non-investigations. How can Issa conduct any investigations or hearings without an assumption that he’s seeking personal benefit before the country’s benefit?

I’m proud to manage the IssaWatch project from which this is cross-posted with light edits. You can also follow on Twitter and Facebook.

San Onofre Nuclear Facility experiences fifth spill 25 months

While much of America enjoyed an extended holiday, it wasn’t a seamless weekend for everyone in the region. San Diego CityBeat notes that at the San Onofre Nuclear Station, 70 gallons of sulfuric acid were spilled — the fifth spill in just over two years. As CityBeat notes, there was a hydrazine spill in February 2011 (“Hydrazine is highly toxic and dangerously unstable”), and two much worse spills of sulfuric acid — two spills in the same July 2010 day, and another spill in April of 2009.

The spill comes one month to the day after hundreds of locals attended a public meeting to voice concerns about safety at San Onofre, where an on-site safety inspector from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission told the crowd that despite limited progress recently, “San Onofre is the leader still in safety concerns reported to the NRC.”

In March, NRC inspectors defended a long record of safety concerns at San Onofre including “a deficient “safety culture'” and an environment allegedly hostile to raising safety concerns. In the same month a manager with Southern California Edison, which owns nearly 80% of the facility, sued the company. He alleges that “he was fired for reporting safety concerns at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

In fact, new information from Japan finds that the Fukushima plant failed before the tsunami hit, meaning that the plant was designed to withstand a major earthquake and didn’t. Meanwhile, the NRC found that many domestic nuclear facilities are currently vulnerable to a wide range of natural disasters, including earthquakes.

An environment that is at best disinterested and at worst hostile to safety, a long and consistent record of safety violations, and new concerns that our domestic nuclear facilities may not be nearly as safe as we originally thought — it’s a recipe for disaster.

The San Onofre facility is in Darrell Issa’s district, so he has a particular vested interest in its safety. After all, it’s his constituents that are first in line if the worst should happen. And San Onofre’s safety record is troubling on a number of levels, including a clear and ongoing record of safety problems and potentially a culture that discourages employees from reporting safety problems.

But so far, Issa hasn’t shown much interest in pursuing nuclear safety. Maybe it’s because Edison International, which owns nearly 80% of the plant through SCE, is Issa’s third largest career campaign contributor. Issa has been supported by Edison’s PAC to the tune of $46,000 over his career, including $5,500 last cycle. That doesn’t include an additional $10,000 to Issa’s two PACs.

In fact, Darrell Issa has been an active impediment to safety reviews of domestic nuclear facilities. In the immediate aftermath of the terrible nuclear disaster in Japan, Issa called for questions into nuclear safety. But he hasn’t since asked them. Instead, Issa has pursued an investigation that began the same day as the disaster in Japan: demanding that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission produce a wide range of documents regarding the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump or face subpoena. And more recently, demanding to know why the NRC evacuated a wider area than the Japanese government around the Fukushima meltdown. This as the NRC was reacting in the aftermath of the Japanese nuclear disaster and conducting a full safety review of domestic nuclear facilities.

Just a month ago, hundreds of local residents came out to voice their concerns about the abysmal safety record at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. Meanwhile, Darrell Issa is threatening the Nuclear Regulatory Commission with unrelated subpoenas while staying silent about nuclear safety. The most obvious explanation is that he’s defending the interests of a major campaign contributor who is responsible for the safety and operation at San Onofre. With the lives of thousands of Issa’s constituents at risk, even the appearance of bias in favor of his corporate backers is too much. It’s high time that Darrell Issa — the most powerful investigator in Washington — stand up for the basic safety of his district.

I proudly manage the Issa Watch program for the Courage Campaign where this was originally posted. You can follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Darrell Issa’s Big Oil Road Show

Sign the petition telling Darrell Issa Frack No! before his hearing on Friday.

There seems to be a bit of confusion at Oversight Headquarters as to what Friday’s field hearing in Bakersfield is going to be about. Last Friday, the hearing was “Pathways To Energy Independence: Hydraulic Fracturing And Other New Technologies.” By Monday, it had changed to “Can New And Safe Oil Extraction Technologies Help Address Gas Prices?” And yesterday, it was back to “Pathways To Energy Independence: Hydraulic Fracturing And Other New Technologies.” The renewed focus comes with word that the witness lineup for Issa’s hearing will be Bakersfield’s Republican state assemblymember and four representatives from oil and gas companies, including major Republican donors and representatives from Big Oil front groups.

Back in December, Darrell Issa sent his now-infamous letter to corporate lobbyists and industry groups asking them to recommend hearings for the Oversight Committee. Among the recipients were Big Oil groups with benign names representing a wide range of notorious organizations. For example, the Independent Petroleum Association of America. In its response, the IPAA focused on rolling back EPA regulations and streamlining the permitting process for both offshore and onshore drilling. Who is the IPAA?

The IPAA receives funding from a wide range of oil companies, including major funding (tens of thousands dating back to at least 1991) from Larry Nichols, the Chairman and CEO of Devon Energy. Larry Nichols is a leading GOP moneyman in Oklahoma, personally donating out of his own pocket more than $380,000 over the years to fund Republican candidates, candidate committees, and affiliated PACs across the country. Separately, Devon Energy’s PAC last cycle contributed more than $300,000 to Republican campaigns and campaign committees, including $11,000 directly to Oversight Committee members.

And testifying at Darrell Issa’s hearing on increased oil drilling and fracking this Friday will be William Whitsitt, Devon Energy’s Executive Vice President for Public Affairs.

Next up on the witness list is Tupper Hull, a Vice President at the Western States Petroleum Association. Members of the WSPA include heavy hitters like BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Occidental, Shell, Tesoro and Venoco. It’s a pretty definitive who’s who list of Big Oil power players, not to mention a group that dropped more than $6 million combined on Prop 23 last year. It’s also a group that really likes writing checks to Darrell Issa, year over year, including:

Chevron $23,500

ConocoPhillips $5,500

ExxonMobil $22,000

Occidental $7,000

Valero $19,500

And that’s not even beginning to explore the money they’ve sunk into other committee members.

Taking the same dais will be Steve Layton, president of Bakersfield-based E&B Natural Resources Management Corp, an oil and gas drilling company operating in several states. According to its website, E&B is owned by the New York-based Galesi Group, whose principal and CEO is Francesco Galesi. Aside from the obvious vested interest for E&B in expanding drilling, Galesi is a major political donor who has leaned significantly Republican as time has gone by in several decades of political contributions, including support for Bob Dole, George W. Bush, and disgraced former Congressman John Sweeney.

Finally, Rock Zierman, Chief Executive Officer of the California Independent Petroleum Association. Last cycle, CIPA, which lists fracking as its top federal priority, was good for a $2,500 check to Issa and nearly $240,000 to California state candidates — 86% to Republicans, including $4,000 to fellow witness Asm. Shannon Grove.

Helping to organize Issa’s field hearing and scheduled to attend himself is California Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy. McCarthy is the Majority Whip for the Republicans in the House, and a huge friend of Big Oil. His campaign collected more than $100,000 from the Energy and Natural Resources sector last cycle, including big checks from Koch Industries, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Halliburton, IPAA, Marathon Oil, Occidental Petroleum, Tesoro, and Valero. He’s also cashed $15,000 from CIPA.

There are also less direct ways that Big Oil is influencing Issa and the Oversight Committee. The National Petrochemical & Refiners Association also received Issa’s letter in December. Another umbrella group for a wide range of oil companies, the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association has deeper pockets thanks to major backers. Founded before the 2006 cycle, the organization functions largely as a mouthpiece for Koch Industries and major oil companies like Valero and Tesoro who provide major funding each year. We know very well that these groups have a major vested interest in opening up the process for more oil drilling and rolling back environmental protections because just those three combined spent more than $6.5 million last cycle trying to pass Proposition 23 in California. The so-called “Dirty Energy” proposition sought to indefinitely suspend landmark environmental protections passed in 2006. Prop 23 lost by a 23% margin despite the efforts of these groups, but Big Oil isn’t giving up that easily.

Speaking of Koch Industries, they’ve been dutifully funding the Republican members of the Oversight Committee ahead of this Congress. Just in this past cycle, the Koch machine helped fund a dozen Republicans on the committee, including a combined $15,000 to Issa’s campaign. Other committee members receiving funding from the Kochtopus last cycle:

Patrick McHenry $10,000 (PAC)

John Mica $2,500

Connie Mack $7,500

Tim Walberg $10,000

Jim Lankford $5,000

Pat Meehan $7,500

Trey Gowdy $5,000

Dennis Ross $10,000

Frank Guinta $5,000

Blake Farenthold $5,000

Mike Kelly $5,000

But in fairness, it wasn’t just the Kochs who were busy funding committee members. Last year Valero dropped $10,000 into Darrell Issa’s campaign and spread another $10,000 between other committee Republicans.

Issa also last year sent a copy of his letter to the grandaddy of Big Oil lobbyist shops — The American Petroleum Institute — which also targeted an easier permitting process for oil drilling, complaints about the Endangered Species Act, EPA enforcement of existing environmental protections, and concern that climate change worries will get in the way of more drilling. API has been lobbying for the oil industry for more than 90 years, and has foregrounded the promotion of fracking as a policy priority. API has spent at least $3 million annually lobbying Congress since 2003, including $21.5 million since just 2008.

What doesn’t currently appear on the witness list is anyone who might speak to the risks involved in fracking, or mention that there has yet to be a comprehensive study of the potential environmental impacts. Nobody who will look at the major fracking spill last month in Pennsylvania as a warning, just like Darrell Issa still thinks the Gulf Oil Spill is an indication that we should increase offshore oil drilling. None of it makes any objective sense, but after collecting hundreds of thousands from Big Oil and the Koch Brothers, maybe it doesn’t matter anymore if what you say makes any sense.

I manage IssaWatch.com for the Courage Campaign. You can join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Darrell Issa teams with Scott Walker to blast workers

Seems that Darrell Issa’s been getting restless holding hearings on Presidential libraries and Freedom of Information Act requests, ducking accusations that he’s used almost a million taxpayer dollars to subsidize his personal investment portfolio, and demanding that the Obama Administration’s unprecedented efforts to improve government transparency be slashed to pay for more tax cuts for billionaires.

So he’s decided to thrust himself into the national spotlight this morning. He’ll be bringing controversial Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to DC to testify before the Oversight Committee today about what Issa absurdly describes as “over-compensation of public employees.” While “over-compensation” is in the eye of the beholder, reality tells us that public employee costs have fallen and compensation has tracked with the growth rate of the economy. What Issa’s stunt does suggest is that after a career of trying to undermine unions and workers at every opportunity, the richest person in the House of Representatives is rapidly devolving from a legitimate watchdog into simply a rich corporatist backed by the Koch Brothers, defense contractors and telecom companies who now has subpoena power to do their dirty work in DC.

While Issa is giving Scott Walker a national soapbox for his anti-worker crusade, he’ll be continuing a long history of anti-union activity just down the hall. Last week Issa held unprecedented hearings on the labor negotiations at the Postal Service that’s poised to save $3.8 billion, investigating the internal machinations of a labor union in the same style as Joseph McCarthy’s union-busting escapades in the 1950s.

And specifically on Scott Walker’s pet project of breaking public sector unions, Issa has been echoing the cry all year. In January he published a long editorial blasting public employees for earning a middle-class wage, hitting all the now-familiar Walker high points. He led with a dubious, Glenn Beck-style history lesson, and then went on to launch co-sponsorship of a bill that would hit the pensions of public employees across the country that were unlucky enough to rely on the stock market before it collapsed late in George Bush’s term. Now facing gigantic funding shortfalls because of the funding collapse at the hands of the Wall Street investment barons that Issa is desperately trying to protect, Issa’s proposed bill would essentially lock in the shortfalls faced by public employees by cutting off access to loans or other federal assistance that might help bridge the gap.

This is hardly out of the blue. In 2009, Issa was out early blasting the Employee Free Choice Act that would have made it easier for workers to organize for basic rights, and in the same vein, made the rounds blasting SEIU for a wide range of reasons. It ran the gamut from single-handedly destroying the California budget, secretly controlling the Obama Administration, having the “California And US Governments By The You Know What,” and openly admitting that the public sector is the last front on blocking unions:

[Unionized workers are] almost all in government or working for government, and as a result influencing government…That’s our problem: The union movement in America is a federal, state, and local worker and their contractors movement. It’s no longer a private sector movement at all.

Also in 2009, Issa used official government resources and committee staff trying to tie SEIU to ACORN and the Obama Administration and accusing them all of criminal activity and conspiracy. It’s perhaps no surprise that when he sent a letter in January soliciting advice on what agenda he should set for the committee, he wrote to 150 groups representing business owners and none representing their employees. Among their top concerns? Worker protection standards and project labor agreements. He then convened a hearing on “the coming crisis” of state and municipal debt and within weeks of taking the gavel invited representatives of business owners and managers to the committee where they complained about high federal standards for worker treatment and not a single witness offering the perspective of workers who are protected by those standards.

Issa has been a business owner most of his adult life — one with a particularly questionable legal and moral history of management. For years he’s been an enthusiastic opponent of worker protections and union rights, and now his rich corporate cronies finally have him in a position to try and do some damage. He’ll be giving Scott Walker a national microphone because Darrell Issa has a record of fully supporting the same anti-worker stances that Walker has pushed in Wisconsin. And since Issa has failed every time he’s tried to run statewide in California, he’s using his perch in DC to continue the state-level assault on fundamental rights.

This is cross-posted from IssaWatch, which I manage for the Courage Campaign. You can also follow via Facebook and Twitter

Darrell Issa bribes himself with personal earmarks

As the richest person in the House of Representatives, Darrell Issa has a vast personal empire that includes a wide range of real estate holdings. His dealings around those real estate investments have raised legal and ethical questions in the past, and more recently Roll Call has questioned the line that divides his personal and political interests. This morning, ThinkProgress reports on a far more troubling conflict:

ThinkProgress has discovered more troubling evidence that Issa may have blended his work as a lawmaker with his own business empire. After founding a successful car alarm company, Issa invested his fortune in a sprawling network of real estate companies with holdings throughout his district. One of Issa’s most valuable properties, a medical office building at 2067 West Vista Way in Vista, California, is called the Vista Medical Center, and was purchased in 2008 for $16.6 million. Described as “a long-term investment,” the property was bought by a company called Viper LLC, a business entity operated by Issa’s family that Issa has up to a $25 million dollar stake in.

Around the same time, Issa made the Vista Medical Center purchase, the congressman began requesting millions of dollars worth of earmarks to widen and improve the highway adjacent to the building. In 2008, he requested $2 million to expand West Vista Way, the road in front of his “long-term investment,” but only received $245,000 from the government. The next year, Issa made another earmark request for improving the West Vista Way highway next to his building. He earmarked another $570,000, bringing his total to $815,000, to add parking lots, widen the road, add bus stops, improve the sewer system, and other utility work.

Issa has said that an “earmark is tantamount to a bribe.” While Issa has handed out earmarks to his campaign donors in the past, in this case, he appears to be helping himself.

Issa has spent months indignantly insisting that he needn’t answer for any of his own transparency or ethical shortcomings, even after more than 18,000 signatures were delivered to his office demanding that he disclose his meetings with lobbyists. We made that demand so the public would know who Darrell Issa is really working for in Congress. Today we have at least part of the answer — himself.

(I proudly manage the IssaWatch project for the Courage Campaign, where this is cross-posted. It’s also on Twitter and Facebook)

Issa Watch Goes to Washington

I manage the IssaWatch project for the Courage Campaign. Rick Jacobs visited Chairman Issa’s office earlier this week to deliver a message from Courage members. He recounts his experience below.

With a petition containing over 18,000 signatures from Courage Campaign members –including thousands from residents of California’s 49th Congressional District — I stopped by Mr. Issa’s DC office on Wednesday to personally deliver our request that the Chairman address the growing disconnect between his record and rhetoric on the issue of transparency. Specifically, to publicly post his schedule online.

We’d written through official channels to request an appointment; we still have not heard back.

As you’ll see in the attached short video shot by our friends at Media Matters, I met Chairman Issa’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Veronica Wong, and asked her if Mr. Issa plans to respond to our request. She would not say. The saddest part of this whole thing is that Mr. Issa is the Co-Founder of the Transparency Caucus. But as you will see in the video, his Deputy Chief of Staff had no idea where he was. I guess Mr. Transparency has something to hide from everyone.

Thanks for stepping up to sign that letter. It’s a big deal to walk into Mr. Issa’s office and show how many people are watching.  That’s our job: Holding him accountable and even over time, setting an agenda that serves the people, not just Mr. Issa and his 150 hand-picked special interests.

Issa to Obama: I’m rubber and you’re glue.

I proudly manage the IssaWatch.com project for the Courage Campaign. 

As Sunshine Week — an annual, national push to make government more open and transparent — begins, we at Courage Campaign are calling for Darrell Issa to back up his rhetoric with action. After resisting calls for his own disclosure while criticizing the Obama Administration for similar, we're calling on Rep. Issa to disclose all the meetings he has with lobbyists. While this sort of hypocrisy is nothing new from Issa, the double-standard is particularly audacious. Rick Jacobs recently sent this message to Courage members explaining the effort.

I can't believe what Issa just said:

“The current lack of transparency lends credence to the perception that bureaucrats are picking winners and losers in a politicized environment where the winners are favored constituencies of the Administration.”-Darrell Issa (1)

What?! Lack of transparency? This coming from the Chairman of one of the most powerful Congressional Committees, who refuses to disclose which lobbyists he meets with?

Tell Issa to speak for himself. Sign our petition here demanding he disclose who he meets with.

Look, access is everything. That’s what our friend Rena learned while waiting in vain for three hours outside a private country club hoping to talk to her Congressman, Darrell Issa, about the challenges she’s facing as a small businesswoman, a mom, and a hard-working taxpayer with pre-existing health conditions.

When President Obama recently asked members of Congress to post who they are meeting with online — so the public knows who is really steering our ship of state — he gave people like Rena hope. Unfortunately, her Congressman dismissed this idea out of hand (2). But in doing so, he invited an obvious question: What does Darrell Issa, one of the most powerful people in government, have to hide?

Click here to sign our petition demanding that Darrell Issa let the sunshine in. Tell him to disclose who he’s meeting with.

As I wrote recently in a San Diego Union Tribune op-ed (3), the first thing Issa did as chair of the powerful Government Oversight Committee — after months of right-wing media grandstanding — was ask corporate lobbyists and right-wing DC insiders for wish lists to guide his agenda. His next move was building an oversight staff full of walking conflicts of interest (4), and appointing subcommittee chairs whose campaigns have been bankrolled by the very industries they are supposed to regulate.

Then, after voting to let insurance companies once again deny coverage to the 331,000 constituents (5) like Rena with pre-existing conditions, Issa held hearings on bank bailouts and the mortgage meltdown.  And with one in 10 homeowners in his district facing foreclosure (6), he inexplicably didn’t call a single banker or loan servicer to testify before his committee. Not one.

If we’re going to find out why, we need to find out who has access to Darrell Issa. Click here to sign our petition demanding that Issa come clean.

We already know who doesn't have access to Darrell Issa. Now it's time for Darrell Issa to come clean about who does.

Thank you for standing with us,


P.S. Darrell Issa is the richest member of Congress, supported by deep-pocketed corporate interests, but if we all join together, we can win this. Can you chip in $5 today and help us continue to hold him accountable?

 (1) http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2011/03/09/issa-zeros-in-on-health-law-waivers/?mod=google_news_blog

(2) http://thehill.com/homenews/house/140441-rep-issa-obama-feigns-perfection-on-lobbying-rules

(3) http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/feb/24/chairman-issa-oversight-for-whom

(4) http://www.watchdoginstitute.org/2011/02/28/industry-insiders-score-jobs-on-issas-team/

(5) http://issawatch.couragecampaign.org/index.php/page/65

(6) http://issawatch.couragecampaign.org/index.php/page/74

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.