Darrell Issa's Criminal Past Back in the Spotlight

Ryan Lizza profiles the new chair of the House Oversight Committee

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 17, 2011 12:28 PM CST

(Newser) – Darrell Issa is eager to investigate the Obama administration, but he's got plenty of skeletons in his own closet. In a lengthy profile, the New Yorker dredges up a series of scandalous allegations from the House Oversight Chairman's criminal past. Among them: Issa has been accused of burning down a building and arrested for carrying a concealed weapon (he paid a fine, got 6 months probation) and stealing a red Maserati (case dismissed).

The stories are old ones, and have been aired before, and Issa "seemed tired of defending himself" from them, writes Ryan Lizza. "Everyone," Issa told him, "has a past." And in reviewing the events that have dogged him, "Issa’s defense in most cases can be summarized in four words," writes Lizza. "My brother did it." That past aside (read the 8,000-word piece in its entirety for a much fuller picture), the article goes on to describe Issa, 57, in other terms: as a "gadget junkie" with 16 patents to his name; as the "Martha Stewart of the Republican Party" who has modified his offices with sky-scene ceiling tiles; and as an entrepreneur who recorded his own voice when making his company's famed Viper alarm. It memorably shouted, "Please step away from the car."

Incoming chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., right, walks with Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, to a GOP conference on Capitol Hill on Jan. 4.
Incoming chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., right, walks with Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, to a GOP conference on Capitol Hill on Jan. 4.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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