Retired Rep. Darrell Issa has said he would run for the 50th District seat held by Rep. Duncan Hunter if his appointment to head the U.S. Trade and Development Agency isn’t approved by early November.
Now a Senate committee has delayed his confirmation hearing. It had been set for Thursday.
Democratic and Republican leaders of the Foreign Affairs Committee say an FBI background file on Issa raises red flags.
Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, says his committee won’t vote unless the White House makes the full FBI file available.
And Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the ranking Democrat, says the background information is “problematic and potentially disqualifying” for Senate confirmation.
“I’m not talking about a nominee’s favorite color or where they had dinner,” Menendez said, according to The Washington Post. “I’m talking about serious issues that go to credibility and suitability for these positions.”
Issa, 65, told the Post he was willing to answer any questions about the matter in public Thursday and suggested Democrats were interested only in delaying his confirmation.
Issa claims the info is already public on Wikipedia and dates back to his time in the Army, when he got a bad conduct rating and demotion amid accusations that he stole a car from another soldier.
“I have owned up to being a 17-year-old kid and not a very good private,” Issa was quoted as saying by the Los Angeles Times reports.
But according to Menendez, Issa’s statement about the FBI’s findings is not truthful.
“If they were all public, then we wouldn’t be having the difficulty that we have,” he said.
Issa’s Wikipedia entry lists additional legal problems he reportedly encountered after his discharge from the military:
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.
Issa later faced suspicion of arson after a company building he owned burned down.
According to the Wikipedia entry:
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. …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.
Issa also was once named among the top 10 most corrupt members of Congress by Citizens for Ethics Reforms in Washington, or CREW.
It is unclear whether the troubling information in Issa’s FBI background check relates to any of the incidents above, or to something else.
A version of this report was originally published by East County Magazine, a member of the San Diego Online News Association.