Darrel Issa, the wealthiest member of Congress, is making headlines again.
California Rep. Darrell Issa (R) told CNN Money on Thursday that poor people in America are “somewhat the envy of the world."Mr. Issa may be correct, our poor may be the envy of the world's downtrodden. But it has been noted that we rank 59th worldwide on the income inequality graph, right below Namibia.
Issa, the wealthiest member of Congress, told the outlet that while the nation still has a way to go with income inequality, it's doing pretty well.
“America is the richest country on Earth because we’ve been able to put capital together and we’ve been able to make our poor somewhat the envy of the world,” Issa said.
Mr. Issa has had a rather interesting and somewhat checkered career, in and out of congress. I did a post on him years ago that you might be interested in linking to again, My Congressman, Darrell Issa. Or this one, More Issing on the cake from Buzzflash. New Yorker ran this piece which you might want to use as a fresh me up.
Rich for the guy to start talking about how great the poor have it in this country, especially a guy with his record.
On his 17th birthday, he dropped out of high school and enlisted for three years in the Army. He became an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technician assigned to the 145th Ordnance Detachment. Trained to defuse bombs, Issa stated that his unit provided security for President Richard Nixon, sweeping stadiums for bombs prior to games in the 1971 World Series. A May 1998 investigation by Lance Williams of the San Francisco Examiner found that Nixon had not attended any of that year's World Series games, but that Issa's unit did perform security sweeps for the World Series. After the World Series Issa was transferred to a supply depot after receiving poor ratings. According to Issa, the Examiner reporter misunderstood an anecdote he had related. A fellow soldier from that time, Jay Bergey, claimed that Issa stole his Dodge Charger in 1971, stating: "I confronted Issa ... I got in his face and threatened to kill him, and magically my car reappeared the next day, abandoned on the turnpike." No charges were ever filed. Issa has denied any theft.
After receiving a hardship discharge in 1972 after his father suffered a heart attack, Issa earned a General Educational Development (GED) certificate. Twice that year, he was arrested. In the first incident he was indicted by a grand jury for an alleged theft of a Maserati, but prosecutors dropped the charge. In the second incident, he was stopped for driving the wrong way on a one-way street, and a police officer noticed a firearm in his glove compartment. Issa was charged with carrying a concealed weapon. He pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of an unregistered firearm, and was sentenced to six months' probation and a small fine. Issa has said he believes the record has since been expunged.
Shortly before his discharge in 1980, Issa was again indicted for grand theft auto. According to court documents, his brother, William Issa, had gone to a used car dealer and offered to sell his brother's car, a 1976 Mercedes sedan, while impersonating his brother. With an Ohio driver's license belonging to Darrell, William was given $16,000 for the car from the dealer. Shortly after the sale, Darrell reported the car stolen and told the police that he had left the title in the trunk. During the investigation Darrell reportedly gave conflicting statements as to whether or not he had recently obtained a replacement driver's license. The brothers were indicted for grand theft. Darrell claimed he had no knowledge of his brother's impersonation and sale, while William claimed that his brother had authorized him to sell the car. As the investigation continued, Darrell went to the dealership the car was sold to and repurchased his car. A few months later, investigators dropped the charges against him. In 1981 in Cleveland, Darrell Issa crashed a truck he was driving into another motorist's car and, according to court records, Issa told her that he did not have time to wait for the police and left the scene. The other motorist sued Issa for $20,000; they eventually settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.
After leaving the military, Issa and his second wife, Kathy Stanton, moved back to the Cleveland area. According to Issa, he and his wife pooled their savings, sold their cars: a 1976 Mercedes and a 1967 VW Beetle as well as a BMW motorcycle and borrowed $50,000 from family members to invest in Quantum Enterprises, an electronics manufacturer run by a friend from Cleveland Heights that assembled bug zappers, CB radio parts and other consumer products for other companies. One of those clients, car alarm manufacturer Steal Stopper, would become the path to Issa's fortune. It was struggling badly, and he took control of it by foreclosing a $60,000 loan he had made to it when its founder, Joey Adkins, missed a payment. Adkins remained as an employee.
Issa soon turned Steal Stopper around, to the point that it was supplying Ford with thousands of car alarms and negotiating a similar deal with Toyota. But early in the morning of September 7, 1982, the offices and factory of Quantum and Steal Stopper in the Cleveland suburb of Maple Heights caught fire. The fire took three hours to put out. The buildings and almost all the inventory within were destroyed. An investigation of the cause of the fire noted "suspicious burn patterns" with fires starting in two places aided by an accelerant such as gasoline.
Adkins said Issa appeared to prepare for a fire by increasing the fire insurance policy by 462% three weeks previously, and by removing computer equipment holding accounting and customer information. St. Paul Insurance, suspicious of arson and insurance fraud, initially paid only $25,000, according to Issa.