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Darrell Issa's tangled business and political interests

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., is a powerful congressional chairman who has been a vocal critic of Obama administration policies he views as anti-business. But his fierce advocacy for the business community, specific deals under federal purview, as well as federally-funded projects and congressional earmarks, has also netted him millions and raised the specter for conflict of interest, according to the New York Times .

The story details a congressman who has unabashedly maintained and increased scores of business interests as his profile in Washington has grown. Issa has ties to telecommunications companies and banks, among other interests.

The story notes that a congressional ethics committee probe was considered and then dismissed amid a lack of evidence that Issa had direct conflicts in his congressional role.

Issa’s Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hired staff that had deep ties to industry, including conservative billionaire activists David and Charles Koch and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, iWatch News reported in February.

iWatch News also profiled Issa , including his big PAC contributors and revolving door from his staff, after the November election sealed his chairmanship.

Issa’s committee also investigated whether a Democratic candidate in Chicago had received political favors from regulators; an inspector’s general report later cleared the bank .

Earlier this year, Issa launched an investigation into a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ gun-smuggling operation nicknamed Fast and Furious reported extensively by iWatch News .

Issa maintains a stake as a board member in DEI, an electronics company that is related to Sirius Radio. The Times reports that Issa championed the merger of Sirius and satellite radio company XM while he stood to benefit. Those ties were the subject of a 2007 iWatch News investigation.

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Reprinted by permission of The Center for Public Integrity.

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Issa's office: NYT story mistaken 'partisan rehashing'

Rep. Issa's office issued two statements Monday, calling the New York Time's report on the congressman's business dealings an "unattributed rehashing of old partisan blog accusations."

The second statement, from Issa's spokesman, Frederick Hill:

 Follow-up Memo: Document shows Central Assertion in NY Times' A1 Story is False

Earlier today, Rep. Darrell Issa's office released a memo outlining clear factual errors and the unattributed rehashing of old partisan blog accusations that New York Times reporter Eric Lichtblau tries to pass off as his own original reporting in his hit piece of Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa.

Additional information retrieved since this earlier memo shatters the premise of the New York Times' story. Real estate documents demonstrate that the story's showcase example, a medical plaza the New York Times alleged had gained a 60 percent appreciation over three years is, in fact, false.  The price Issa paid remains its current tax assessment.

The New York Times story, citing the medical plaza and federal funds Rep. Issa secured for his congressional district states, "the value of the medical complex and other properties has soared, at least in part because of the government-sponsored road work."  The story alleges that Rep. Issa's 2008 purchase of "a medical plaza" for $10.3 million is now assessed by San Diego County "at $16 million – a 60 percent appreciation." 

This, however, is false.

According to the final settlement statement of the medical plaza property, the purchase price paid by Rep. Issa's company for the property was $16.6 million.  This figure, $16.6 million, is essentially identical to its current tax assessment and wipes-out the 60 percent appreciation the New York Times story alleges Rep. Issa's commercial property enjoyed.  The crux of the story's title, "Helping His District, and Himself," is in fact premised on this one central example.  The only question left is whether the Grey Lady has the integrity to admit critical mistakes on the part of editors and reporter Eric Lichtblau and retract its flawed and false attack on Rep. Darrell Issa.

—Dylan Smith/TucsonSentinel.com