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Rapt attention

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My Congressman, Darrell Issa












From the SF Gate

Issa was charged in San Jose car theft
Lance Williams and Carla Marinucci, Chronicle staff writers
Wednesday, June 25, 2003


Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, the driving force behind the effort to recall Gov. Gray Davis, was prosecuted with his brother in San Jose in 1980 for allegedly faking the theft of Issa's Mercedes Benz sedan and selling it to a car dealer for $16,000, according to court records.
Issa, in a phone interview with The Chronicle Tuesday, blamed his brother for the car theft, which was detailed in documents on file in Santa Clara County Superior Court and which has never been made public.
"I do not steal," Issa said.
The second-term San Diego area congressman has pumped $1 million into the campaign to recall Davis and has declared he will run for governor should the recall qualify for the ballot this year. Issa's previous political campaigns have been roiled by allegations that twice -- once while a student in his hometown of Cleveland and once while a soldier in Pennsylvania -- he also was involved in car thefts.
In the San Jose case, Issa, who at the time was a 27-year-old U.S. Army officer, and William Issa, 29, were arrested by San Jose police on a felony auto-theft charge in February 1980.
They were accused of a scheme in which Issa's brother allegedly sold Issa's cherry-red Mercedes 240 to Smythe European Motors in San Jose for $13,000 cash and three $1,000 traveler's checks. Within hours, Issa reported the car stolen from a lot at the Monterey airport, near his Army post at Fort Ord.
Issa and his brother pleaded not guilty. A judge ordered them to stand trial on felony charges, saying he had a "strong suspicion" that the men had committed the crime, according to the records.
CASE DISMISSED

But in August 1980, a prosecutor dismissed the case for lack of evidence. The men later were charged with misdemeanors, but that case was not pursued, said retired police detective Richard Christiansen, lead investigator in the case.
Issa, 49, became a multimillionaire manufacturer of electronic auto alarms, including the popular "Viper" anti-theft device. "When people ask me why I got into the car alarm business, I tell them the truth," he said in a statement to The Chronicle. "It was because my brother was a car thief."
He was elected to Congress in 2000 from the San Diego County town of Vista after losing a bruising, high-profile campaign for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in 1998.
In those campaigns, Issa denied allegations of car theft and sought to blame political opponents, including U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) for planting news stories about the allegations to discredit him.
"They can't beat us on a good stand-up-for-families, stand-up-for-law-and-order type agenda," he told the Riverside Press Enterprise during his 1998 Senate Race. "They have to do it with lies in the last minute of the campaign."
THE BEARDED LIEUTENANT CAPER

The San Jose case began on Dec. 28, 1979, when a bearded man identifying himself as "Lt. Darrell Issa" and using Darrell Issa's Ohio driver's license for identification drove up to Smythe European Motors on Stevens Creek Boulevard in a new Mercedes and said he wanted to sell it.
In a preliminary hearing, salesman Norris Poulsen testified that the driver -- police contended it was Issa's brother, using Darrell Issa's driver's license for identification -- agreed to take $16,000 for the car. Then he asked for a ride to a nearby Bank of America branch.
There, the driver obtained $13,000 cash and three $1,000 travelers' checks, said teller Marcela Lawrence.
Meanwhile, according to the records, Darrell Issa had called police, saying that upon his return from a Christmas vacation in Ohio he had discovered his Mercedes was missing from the parking lot at the Monterey airport. The car's pink slip had been locked in the trunk, Issa told police.
Police investigated the case for two months, records show. Detective Christiansen testified that he repeatedly had interviewed Issa by phone and had even driven with him from Monterey to the old Fort Hunter Liggett Army base south of Big Sur to distribute a police sketch of the person who had sold the Mercedes.
The detective said he suspected William Issa was the man who had sold the car because he closely resembled the sketch of the suspect. He began to suspect Darrell Issa also was involved because some of his statements seemed unbelievable or inconsistent, he said.
Christiansen said that at first, Darrell Issa had denied he had recently gotten a new driver's license. But later, the detective said Issa acknowledged that while in Ohio he had obtained two new driver's licenses -- one a renewal, the second to replace the first because he didn't like the photo on it.
Issa also said he didn't recognize the composite sketch but wanted to send a copy of it to his mother to see if she knew the man. Christiansen said he found that unbelievable. The sketch was "absolutely dead right on the brother, and how anyone in the family could fail to recognize him I couldn't understand," he said in a phone interview.
In legal papers, prosecutor Donald Mulvey contended that "Darrell falsely reported the theft of his vehicle at a time when he was aware that (William) had sold the vehicle to the dealership." The prosecutor also said Darrell Issa had tried to mislead police about his brother's role in the theft.
BROTHER NOT REACHED

Efforts to reach William Issa Tuesday were unsuccessful.
Issa told The Chronicle that he believed police had targeted him because "they always thought I was not coming clean enough essentially to (help them) prosecute my brother." He blamed his brother for the San Jose arrest.
He said he couldn't answer every question about the case because "it's been enough years that I don't remember any level of details like that." But he denied complicity in the crime, saying, "It is impossible to believe that anyone would be stupid enough to steal a car and sell it under their own name."
Issa said he never tried to conceal his San Jose arrest. He said his campaign managers had advised him not to discuss it unless he was asked about it.
The Cleveland arrest "came out in the first election, and I asked my own people, 'Should we tell them about the other one?' " Issa said. "They said, 'No, they'll bring it out.' "
In court, defense lawyer William McCrone argued that Issa's statements to police should be thrown out because he hadn't been given a Miranda warning.
The lawyer also wanted the case dismissed because he said Issa's right to a speedy trial had been violated. He said that while the case was stalled, Issa had left the Army and obtained a job with a "major oil company," which fired him when it learned of the theft allegation.
William Issa's attorney contended that no crime had been committed because Darrell Issa had offered to buy the Mercedes back from the dealership for more than the amount it had paid.
The court rejected the arguments. But in August 1980, when the case was called for trial, the DA's office chose not to proceed, Christiansen said .
"Most auto thefts are fairly easy, but this one is obviously a lot more involved," he said. He said he had persuaded the district attorney's office to re-file the case as a misdemeanor, but it was never prosecuted.
ANOTHER CASE IN '72
The San Jose case was the second time that Issa and his brother were allegedly involved in car theft.
In 1972 Issa, then 19, was indicted with his brother William on a charge of felony grand theft for allegedly stealing a red Maserati sports car from a car dealership in Cleveland, court records show.
The case was dropped. When the Los Angeles Times reported on it in a 1998 story, Issa told the newspaper he had been wrongly implicated because his brother William had an arrest record.
"I was exonerated of all wrongdoing. My brother went on to have a long and sordid career," he told the Times. "I am not my brother. I am not my brother's keeper."
In the third incident, a retired Army sergeant claimed that in 1971 Issa, then an enlisted man, had stolen a Dodge sedan from an Army post near Pittsburgh. The allegation was published in a 1998 story in the San Francisco Examiner. It quoted the retired sergeant as saying he had recovered the car after confronting Issa and threatening him. Issa denied the allegation, calling it reckless, the newspaper reported. No charges were filed.
When his opponent in the 2000 campaign for Congress raised the same auto-theft allegations, Issa denounced them as lies, according to press accounts.
Issa, who was re-elected to Congress last year, has emerged as a major player in state politics by becoming the main financial backer of the drive to recall Davis.
Issa founded Rescue California, a pro-recall organization, and has donated $1 million of his own money through Greene Properties, a real estate firm he owns with his wife.
The funds pay for a statewide network of professionals who aim to gather the needed 900,000 valid signatures to put the recall on the ballot.
Issa has launched his own campaign for governor and is campaigning around the state, while insisting the required number of signatures will be submitted to county registrars by mid-July.
If he makes his goal, the matter could go before the voters later this year.
But Issa said Tuesday he believed the accusations, though in the public record, had surfaced as an attempt to derail his political plans.
"I don't think this was fair game" on the part of his political opponents, he said, adding they were "looking for things other than legitimate policy issues to go after."


Not So Teeny After All: Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., may have just slightly underplayed the importance of an earlier weapons charge. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, what Issa called an "unloaded … teeny pistol" is now reported as a .25-caliber semiautomatic pistol.

Police reports contend Issa was arrested in Adrian, Mich., in 1972 when his yellow Volkswagen was pulled over for going the wrong way on a one-way street. When Issa unlocked the glove compartment to show his registration, the officer caught sight of the box with a sticker that said ".25 cal." on it, holding the semiautomatic pistol with seven bullets inside. Upon further inspection of the glove compartment, the officer discovered a military-style pouch containing a box with 44 bullets in it, a tear gas gun and two rounds of ammunition.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Issa said the gun was an "unloaded, never-fired, in-the-box little teeny pistol." He further went on to deny owning the weapon. However, according to the arresting officer, Don Payne, this was not the case. Payne asserts Issa acknowledged ownership of the gun and stated it was necessary for the protection of his car and himself. Payne recalls, "It was a B.S. story, and (my partner and I) were laughing about it later."

Issa, who declined to be interviewed for the story, "recalled this minor incident from 30 years ago to the best of his memory," said spokesman Jonathan Wilcox.

Darrell Issa: 9/11 Fallout is New York's Problem
by: Lucas O'Connor
Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 11:58:29 AM PDT
I'm not sure if he's just a soulless ass or if he's also actively trying to undermine the entire foundation of post-9/11 conservativism, but Darrell Issa is doing his level best to spit on the rescue workers who got sick at Ground Zero in the aftermath of the twin towers attacks. He's flatly refused to vote for federal funding that would provide medical care to these victims of the attack because, in Issa's mind, it apparently was just a local thing, and not a major one at all:

"It simply was an aircraft, residue of two aircraft, and residue from the materials used to build this building," Issa said during a hearing into whether a new 9/11 victims' compensation fund should be launched.

Which is odd since, as Rep. Anthony Weiner notes, "The gentleman voted for [original 9/11 funding] because we had the national sense that this was not an attack on New York City, this was an attack on our country."

But hey, keep up the despicably cruel hypocrisy Rep. Issa. Feel free to even bring some friends along. Because all it proves is that 9/11 to you is nothing more than a tool to intimidate people into sacrificing Constitutional rights and attempt to justify the $3 trillion Iraq boondoggle. That's when it's a national issue. That's when America is at stake. Only when it serves the political interests of Darrell Issa.

But when the heroes who sacrificed at Ground Zero need help? For Darrell Issa, that's not America's problem and it apparently sure isn't his problem. It's...well...somebody else's problem.

Robert Hamilton is challenging Darrell Issa this year.

GOP Rep. Darrell Issa under fire from everywhere after 9/11 comments

BY RICHARD SISK AND MICHAEL MCCAULIFF
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

Thursday, April 3rd 2008, 4:00 AM

WASHINGTON - The California congressman who called the Sept. 11 attacks "simply" a plane crash ran for cover Wednesday under a barrage of ridicule from fellow Republicans, first responders and victims' families.

San Diego GOP Rep. Darrell Issa was under siege for suggesting the federal government had already done enough to help New York cope with "a fire" that "simply was an aircraft" hitting the World Trade Center.

"That is a pretty distorted view of things," said Frank Fraone, a Menlo Park, Calif., fire chief who led a 67-man crew at Ground Zero. "Whether they're a couple of planes or a couple of missiles, they still did the same damage."

"New York was attacked by Al Qaeda. It doesn't have to be attacked by Congress," added Long Island Rep. Pete King, a Republican.

"I'm really surprised by Darrell Issa," King added. "It showed such a cavalier dismissal of what happened to New York. It's wrong and inexcusable."

Lorie Van Aucken, who lost her husband, Kenneth, in the attacks, slammed Issa's "cruel and heartless" comments.

"It's really discouraging. People stepped up and did the right thing. They sacrificed themselves and now a lot of people are getting really horrible illnesses," she added.

Under pressure from all sides, the Golden State pol - who got rich selling car alarms after getting busted for car theft as a teen - pulled a partial U-turn. He issued a statement but cowered from the press.

"I continue to support federal assistance for the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks," he said.

But he didn't retract his wacked-out rhetoric claiming the feds "just threw" buckets of cash at New York for an attack "that had no dirty bomb in it, it had no chemical munitions in it."

He went on: "I have to ask ... why the firefighters who went there and everybody in the city of New York needs to come to the federal government for the dollars versus this being primarily a state consideration."

In his statement yesterday, Issa insisted he only "asked tough questions about the expenditures" during a hearing Tuesday on an aid bill for sick New Yorkers.

"He realized he stepped in it," said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-Manhattan), who was leading the hearing when Issa popped off.

"The sound I'm hearing is him slamming the brakes and going in reverse," crowed Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn-Queens). Issa also belatedly admitted 9/11 was "an attack on America" in his statement.

It shouldn't have been that hard.

He took to the floor of Congress on Sept. 11, 2001, to argue passionately that America - not just New York - had been attacked, but conveniently forgot that during his Tuesday diatribe.

"It seems that with the passage of time, something happened along the way where the scope of the problem and the real extent of the problem has not drifted out to California," fumed Staten Island GOP Rep. Vito Fossella.

Health officials estimate it could cost $1 billion to care properly for the ailments that may emerge in the people who lived through the horror of Sept. 11 or breathed that toxic dust.

New York lawmakers now want Democratic leaders to bring the 9/11 care bill to the floor soon - before more members of Congress start spouting off like Issa.

Allegations of criminal involvement in early years
In 1971, Issa allegedly stole a Dodge sedan from an Army post near Pittsburgh. The allegation was made by a retired Army sergeant, and published in a 1998 newspaper article. Issa denied the allegation. No charges were filed.[13][14]
In 1972, Issa and his brother allegedly stole a red Maserati sports car from a car dealership in Cleveland. He and his brother were indicted for car theft, but the case was dropped.[13][14]
Also in 1972, Issa was convicted in Michigan for possession of an unregistered gun. He received three months probation and paid a $204 fine.[15]
On December 28, 1979, Issa and his brother allegedly faked the theft of Issa's Mercedes Benz sedan. Issa and his brother were charged for felony auto theft, but the case was dropped by prosecutors for lack of evidence. Later, Issa and his brother were charged for misdemeanors, but that case was not pursued by prosecutors. Issa accused his brother of stealing the car, and said that the experience with his brother was the reason he went into the car alarm business.[13][14]
A day after the court order, Issa allegedly carried a cardboard box containing a handgun into the office of an A.C. Custom executive, Jack Frantz, and told Frantz he was fired. In a 1998 newspaper article, Frantz said Issa had invited him to hold the gun and claimed extensive knowledge of guns and explosives from his Army service. In response, Issa said, "Shots were never fired. ... I don't recall having a gun. I really don't. I don't think I ever pulled a gun on anyone in my life."[15]

Blackwater controversy
On February 7, 2007, during a hearing in which four mothers, wives, and daughters of four security guards killed in Iraq testified in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Issa made controversial remarks, implying that the hearing was partisan and insinuating that the women's testimony was written by their attorney. The families have sued North Carolina-based Blackwater USA, the company that employed their relatives as security guards, to gain information about the circumstances surrounding the men’s deaths. [16] Congresswoman Janice Schakowsky of Illinois lambasted Issa saying, "I also wanted to take exception to questions about who wrote this, first of all, because I think clearly the implication was that somehow these wonderful women could not possibly have written that wonderful, heartfelt testimony and that it took a lawyer in order to put it together and I resent that very much."[17]

U.S. Attorney Carol Lam, who successfully prosecuted Republican Congressman Duke Cunningham, was dismissed in December 2006. North County Times has quoted Issa stating that he takes "maybe one-twentieth" of the responsibility for Lam's firing.[18]
In March 2007, Congress opened hearings into the dismissal of eight U.S. Attorneys including Lam, probing whether the Bush Administration had political motives for ousting the federal prosecutors. [19] Issa testified at the March 6, 2007, United States House Committee on the Judiciary hearing[20].
[edit]9/11 victims
In April 2008, Issa said that the federal government "just threw" buckets of cash at New York for the September 11, 2001 attacks "that had no dirty bomb in it, it had no chemical munitions in it." He went on: "I have to ask ... why the firefighters who went there and everybody in the city of New York needs to come to the federal government for the dollars versus this being primarily a state consideration."[21]
In 2008, Issa faces a challenge from the Democrat Robert Hamilton, who has full party backing. (A previous Democratic rival, organic foods spokesman Frank Ford, withdrew from the Democratic primary election because of health problems).

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