“Infamous Scandal-investigator becomes a bureaucrat”
Darrel Issa, a longtime “free trader,” who made millions of dollars importing Taiwan-manufactured computer boards for his “Viper” car alarms was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000. He is retiring from the House this year but not from government.
President Donald Trump has appointed Issa Director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, an agency charged with encouraging and facilitating American exports.
While some media outlets suggest that Issa is a strong supporter of the President, Trump’s antipathy towards ‘free trade’ and agreements the United States has operated under for decades, they assume facts not in evidence. Issa made millions – he is reputed to be the richest man in the U.S. Congress – by importing operating IT-boards and wiring from Taiwan that could not be manufactured in the U.S. That, under environmental regulations created and implemented by Republican and Democratic administrations.
The political story behind the appointment is interesting because President Trump is a political outsider. Nonetheless, the old order of regular establishment Republicans still run the Washington show.
Having been an Issa ”consultant” in his first campaign for the House and having kept my contacts up to date with Issa and people close to him, the following is a great political story that ends with the new beginning of his career as an official in the Trump administration.
Issa entered congress in 2000 as a “free trader” and immigrant worker advocate that created and introduced work permit legislation allowing American farmers to hire foreign workers to enter and work legally for up to seven years with renewals. Issa was familiar with Mexican workers as he hired many of them in his Vista, California car alarm factory.
For the record, as a working newspaperman at the time, I conducted many interviews with his Mexican national workers. They loved him as a “patron” – boss. When the 1992 recession hit, Issa did not let any of his workers go; he cut some hours across the board but every employee was kept on payroll.
In quick order, Issa made his way to the chairmanship of the important Oversight House Committee when Republicans smashed their way into House control under President Obama in 2010. Issa bulldozed his way into prominence by aggressively taking an unknown House committee into a series of investigations of Obama acts such as the illegal gun-running-to-Mexico operation conducted by Obama’s appointees in the Department of Justice.
In the 2016 Presidential primary campaign, Issa supported Florida Senator Marco Rubio; he campaigned for him in New Hampshire. He did not support Donald Trump until Trump had sewn up the nomination. A photo of Issa shaking hands enthusiastically with nominee Donald Trump came back to haunt him in his district, the 49th, in the 2016 election. Issa barely won with a 1600 vote margin provided by his Orange County Republican voters. That was the smallest incumbent margin of victory in the country.
Issa immediately began pursuing a high level job in the new Trump Administration. He knew, or thought he knew, that he would have a struggle in 2018 if he ran for re-election. Word is Trump promised him a real political plum of a job. Word also is that Trump asked Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy what they thought of his appointing Issa to a top level job at the Department of Commerce.
The House leaders counseled the President to NOT APPOINT Issa to a job that vacated his congressional seat. They told the president that they needed every vote in the House in order to kill Obamacare and to pass tax legislation. They were not sure a Republican could win a special election to replace Issa. The truth is that neither Ryan, nor McCarthy were close to Issa or cared if he took a big job in the administration.
Issa thought he was in for a job and passed word to the state legislator that represented 60 percent of the 49th district – retired Marine Corps Colonel Rocky Chavez. The colonel commissioned a poll that showed most district residents knew him well enough for him to run in a special election. He waited as did his friends and supporters. Issa told Rocky he would support him.
The appointment didn’t materialize, Issa announced he would not run for reelection. When candidates announced for his seat, he snubbed Colonel Chavez and supported a right-wing woman from Orange County. Issa kept after President Trump; Issa got his job.
His leaving Congress is just in time. It appears that Democrats might sweep their way into majority control of the House and have an outside chance of winning the Senate.
Ironically, if Democrats do win the Senate, they could reject Issa’s appointment if the current Republican Senate does not confirm him. If so, he would be just one more unemployed millionaire.