Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) sent a letter to Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel demanding a response to a Politico article stating that Emanuel used “Chicago-style” tactics to intimidate the state of Arizona after Arizona Senator Jon Kyle (R) expressed negative opinions about the stimulus and how the stimulus money is being spent. In the letter, Issa tells Emanuel that Washington, D.C. is not a Chicago political machine.
The letter accuses Emanuel of an “assault” on Kyl and “Chicago-style politics” through the letters that suggest “if you prefer to forfeit the money we are making available to your state…please let me know.”
[Issa] You’ve unfortunately reacted by once again resorting to the playbook of the Chicago political machine.” As Politico reports, you “launched a coordinated effort ot jam” Senator Kyl and other administration critics:
In response, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry published a column saying “Mr. President, Don’t Bully Arizona.”
In my view, this is an important step. Issa called it as he sees it: intimidation through “Chicago-playbook tactics.” Most importantly, he is demanding a response from the nauseatingly haughty Rahm Emanuel.
We’ll see if he get is.
We do not see letters like this making their way through Congress and landing in the White House. Note, hilariously, Issa attached a “glossary” of terms to describe the “communication and “records” he is asking for, and defining how the words “referring or relating,” should be interpreted. Here’s the full text with some bold and red text for emphasis, chosen by me:
Written on U.S. House of Representative, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform letterhead and dated August 4, 2009.
As you know, Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) recently raised questions about the failure of the stimulus and suggested on a national television show that stimulus money scheduled to be spent in future years ought to be returned to the American taxpayers. Following Senator Kyl’s remarks, according to Politico, you coordinated an “assault” on Senator Kyl and other critics of your policies by directing four cabinet secretaries to write to Jan Brewer, the Governor of Arizona, asking pointedly if, in light of Senator Kyl’s remarks, Governor Brewer wished to forfeit taxpayer money directed to Arizona by the stimulus.
These tactics have been characterized as “a fist to the nose” and a message to “Back off.” While this type of scare tactic may work in Chicago, it will not work to intimidate me or other Members of the United States Congress.
At the risk of adding to the “weeks of frustration” you’ve reportedly felt in response to criticism of the Administration’s ineffective and wasteful policies, please allow me to bring the facts about the stimulus to your attention. In selling the stimulus package, the Administration promised the Congress and the American people that the legislation would create or save 3.5 million jobs and prevent the U.S. unemployment rate from rising above 8%.
I thought the outdated and discredited Keynesian economic theory behind your effort was misguided and I opposed the stimulus. Unfortunately, recent economic data has validated my opposition.-The U.S. economy lost 433,000 jobs in June, bringing the unemployment rate to 9.5%. These job losses come on the heels of other declining economic indicators, and bring the total number of American jobs lost since President Obama took office to over 2.6 million.
I and others have dared to bring these facts to the attention of President Obama, the Congress and the American people. You’ve unfortunately reacted by once again resorting to the playbook of the Chicago political machine. As Politico reports, you “launched a coordinated effort to jam” Senator Kyl and other Administration critics:
[A]fter seeing Kyl and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) again paint the legislation as a failure on Sunday talk shows, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel directed that the letters from the Cabinet secretaries be sent to [Governor] Brewer, according to two administration officials.
The fact that the letters were coordinated by you to maximize the level of intimidation is supported by the timing, structure, and content of each letter. Not only were the four letters all sent the day following Senator Kyl’s remarks, but they were also remarkably similar in tone and sentence structure. For example, consider the following comparison:
Letter from Ray LaHood, Secretary of Transportation:
On Sunday, Arizona Senator Jon Kyl publicly questioned whether the stimulus is working and stated that he wants to cancel projects that aren’t presently underway. I believe the stimulus has been very effective in creating job opportunities throughout the country. However, if you prefer to forfeit the money we are making available to your state, as Senator Kyl suggests, please let me know [emphasis added].
Letter from Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior:
Some key Republican leaders in Congress have publicly questioned whether the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is working and suggested cancelling all projects that are not currently in progress. I believe they are wrong. The stimulus funds provided through the Recovery Act are a very effective way to create job opportunities throughout the Country. However, if you prefer to forfeit the money we are making available to Arizona, please let me know [emphasis added].
Politico reports that in response to these letters, Governor Brewer “knew she’d
been thrown a high, hard one.” The president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce
and Industry felt the need to respond to these tactics by penning a column under the
At what point do you believe your practice of Chicago-style politics violates a public official’s right to speak out in favor of alternative policies? The American people have a right to know what role you played in developing the threatening letters to Governor Brewer and whether you intend to continue to engage in these tactics in the future.
Since I represent a district in the great state of Califomia, I hope that you will not take this letter as an indication of Governor Schwarzenegger’s position on stimulus funds dedicated to California nor his position on any other public policy issue. I can assure you that any attempt to intimidate me or silence my criticism of the stimulus through such Chicago-style tactics will be futile.
In order to assist the Committee with its investigation of this issue, please provide the following information by close of business on Tuesday, August 11, 2009:
1. Your response to Politico ‘s report that “White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel directed that the letters from the Cabinet secretaries be sent to [Governor] Brewer, according to two administration officials.”
2. A full and complete explanation of the development of the four July 13 letters from the cabinet secretaries to Governor Brewer, including but not limited to the role you or any other White House official played in writing the letters or encouraging the writing of the letters.
3. All records and communications between you and Secretary LaHood, Secretary Salazar, Secretary Donovan, and Secretary Vilsack referring or relating to the decision to send the July 13 letters to Governor Brewer.
4. A full and complete explanation of the role of the Democratic National Committee and the White House Office of Political Affairs in authoring, encouraging, facilitating, or directing the four July 13 letters from the cabinet secretaries to Governor Brewer.
Please note that, for purposes of responding to this request, the terms “records,”
“communications,” and “referring or relating” should be interpreted consistently with the
attached Definitions of Terms.
If you have any questions regarding this request, please contact Christopher Hixon or Brien Beattie of the Committee staff at (202)225-5074,
The letter is signed “Darrell E. Issa, Ranking Member”
End Issa letter.
Earlier this month, at the direction of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, four cabinet secretaries fired off letters to Jan Brewer, the GOP governor of Arizona, citing Kyl’s critique and asking if the state still wanted the funds.