|Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee|
January 3, 2011
|Preceded by||Edolphus Towns|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 49th district
January 3, 2001
|Preceded by||Ron Packard|
|Born||Darrell Edward Issa
November 1, 1953
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
|Alma mater||Kent State University Stark, Siena Heights College|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1970–1972; 1976–1980|
Darrell Edward Issa (//; born November 1, 1953) is the U.S. Representative for California's 49th congressional district, serving since 2001. The district covers the northern coastal areas of San Diego County, including cities such as Oceanside, Vista, Carlsbad and Encinitas, as well as a small portion of southern Orange County. He is a member of the Republican Party.
He was formerly a CEO of Directed Electronics, a Vista, California-based manufacturer of automobile security and convenience products. The district was numbered as the 48th District during his first term and was renumbered the 49th after the 2000 Census. Since January 2011, he has served as Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Early life, education, and military service
Issa, the second of six children, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to Martha (née Bielfelt) and William Issa, who sold trucks and grinded valves. His father was Eastern Orthodox and his mother was a Mormon. His paternal grandparents were Lebanese immigrants who both belonged to the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch known as the “Antiochian Orthodox” community and his mother is of German and Bohemian (Czech) descent. The family moved to the predominantly Jewish suburb of Cleveland Heights in the later years of his childhood. Many of his friends were Jewish, and Issa reportedly worked for a rabbi at one point. He became very familiar with Jewish culture.
On his 17th birthday, Issa dropped out of high school and enlisted for three years in the Army. He became an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technician, trained to defuse bombs. He said 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 said Nixon had not attended any of that year's World Series games. His unit did perform security sweeps for the World Series. The investigation said that 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, Jay Bergey, said that Issa stole his Dodge Charger in 1971, and that "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, because his father had 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.
Issa attended Siena Heights University, a small Catholic college in Adrian, Michigan, followed by Kent State University at Stark, where he enrolled in the Reserve Officer Training Corps and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. Issa served in the Army Reserve from 1976 to 1980 and was promoted to the rank of captain. While serving on active duty for training with the 1/77th Armor Battalion as an Assistant S-1 from September 9 to September 26, 1980, he received an evaluation report by then-Lt. Col. Wesley Clark, who wrote "This officer's performance far exceeded that of any other reserve officer who has worked in the battalion" and "Promote ahead of contemporaries. Unlimited potential." Shortly before his discharge in 1980, Issa was again indicted for grand theft auto. According to court documents, Darrel's brother William Issa had gone to a used car dealer and offered to sell his brother's car, a 1976Mercedes 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 gave conflicting statements about whether he had recently obtained a replacement driver’s license. This evidence resulted in police suspecting that the brothers had conspired to fraudulently sell Darrell’s car and then collect on the insurance policy and from the sale of the car. Darrell and his brother were then indicted for grand theft. Darrell claimed he had no knowledge of William’s theft 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 after Darrell had repurchased his car, investigators had dropped the charges against him. Then in 1981 in Cleveland, Issa crashed a truck he was driving into a another motorists car and, according to court records, Issa told her that he did not have time to wait for the police and he then left the scene. The other motorist then sued Issa for twenty thousand dollars and 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 BMW motorcycle, a 1976 Mercedes, and a 1967 VW Beetle, 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 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 that Issa appeared to prepare for a fire by increasing the fire insurance policy 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 then sued St. Paul Insurance for $175,000 and eventually the two parties settled out of court with Issa receiving approximately $20,000.
Steal Stopper soon regained its previous prosperity. As car theft rose in the United States during the 1980s, as did the demand for security devices. Rolls Royce, BMW, and General Motors joined Ford and Toyota as customers. In 1985 Issa sold the company to a California-based maker of home alarms, and moved to the San Diego suburb of Vista, where he has lived ever since, to work for it. Shortly afterward he left to start Directed Electronics, Inc. (DEI).
Issa was able to use his knowledge of the weaknesses in automotive security that car thieves preyed on to develop effective theft deterrents. Using sensors that would detect motion and pressure on the body of the car when armed, his design would create loud noise to draw attention to a would-be car thief, such as the car's horn honking or a speaker playing a recording with Issa's voice saying: "Protected by Viper. Stand back" and "Please step away from the car", warning for DEI's signature product, the Viper car alarm. Sales grew from a million dollars its first year to $14 million by 1989. DEI diversified, and eventually became one of the largest makers of aftermarket electronic automotive accessories in the U.S. As of 2004, Directed Electronics was North America's largest aftermarket automotive electronics manufacturer. Issa divested personal interest in Directed Electronics after being elected to public office.
Early political career
From his involvement in consumer-electronics trade organizations, he started becoming politically active. He went to Washington to lobby Congress and became one of California's largest individual campaign contributors to Republican candidates. In 1996, he backed the successful campaign to pass Proposition 209, a ballot initiative which prohibited public institutions in California from considering race, sex, or ethnicity. He was instrumental in persuading the national Republican Party to hold its 1996 convention in San Diego.
1998 U.S. Senate election
Issa's first campaign for elected office came in 1998, when he sought the Republican nomination for United States Senate to run against incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer. He backed the campaign with $10 million of his personal wealth, but lost the primary election to California State Treasurer Matt Fong. Fong's campaign raised $3 million from contributions and complained that Issa's wealth made for an uneven playing field (Issa had only $400,000 in contributions). An Issa spokesman countered that the money was needed to compensate for Fong's statewide name recognition. Fong defeated Issa 22%-20%. A San Francisco exit poll suggested large numbers of Asian-Americans, who typically vote in the Democratic party primary, had crossed party lines to vote for Fong.
U.S. House of Representatives
Nine-term incumbent Republican U.S. Congressman Ron Packard decided to retire two years after Issa's senate bid. Issa capitalized on his name recognition from the 1998 Senate race and decided to run for California's 48th congressional district. The district was primarily based in San Diego County, but did have small portions in Riverside and Orange counties. He finished first in the all-party primary with 35% of the vote, winning a plurality in all three counties. He defeated Republican State Senator Bill Morrow, who got just 24% of the vote, which was eleven percentage points behind Issa. He won the November general election, defeating Democratic nominee Peter Kouvelis 61%-28%.
After redistricting, Issa decided to run in the newly redrawn California's 49th congressional district. The Orange county portion of the district was cut off. The district was heavily Republican and had a Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) of R+10. No Democrat filed against him that year. He won re-election to a second term, defeating Libertarian nominee Karl Dietrich 77%-22%.
Issa won re-election to a fourth term, defeating Democratic nominee Jeeni Criscenzo, 63%-33%.
Issa won re-election to a fifth term, defeating Democratic nominee Robert Hamilton, 58%-37%. The 21-point margin of victory was the second smallest in his career. He carried San Diego with 60% of the vote and Riverside with 57% of the vote.
Issa won re-election to a sixth term, defeating Democratic nominee Howard Katz 63%-31%.
After redistricting, Issa ran in the newly redrawn 49th district. This time, the Riverside portion of the district was cut off, and a portion of Orange county was put in. Issa won re-election to a seventh term, defeating Democrat nominee Jerry Tetalman, 58%-42%. The sixteen-point margin of victory was the smallest in Issa's political career. He carried the San Diego part with just 55% of the vote, while he dominated the Orange County part with 66% of the vote.
Issa is generally opposed to abortion and supports stem cell research, saying that "The promise of stem cells to provide innovative treatments and cures warrants investment in more advanced research".
In 2001 Issa voted for the authorization of the PATRIOT Act and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. He voted for the reauthorization of the Patriot Act in 2005 after successfully amending it to require judicial notification, reporting requirements and facts justifying the use of roving survelliance at new facilities or places.
Issa has said he supports efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He voted against a cap and trade bill designed to cut them. Issa believes that "the science community does not agree to the extent of the problem or the critical threshold of when this problem is truly catastrophic."
He has been critical of No Child Left Behind, supporting a modification that would, in his words, "give states the freedom to adopt best practices for their students by returning flexibility and control to the educators and parents who are the real experts on education".
He is opposed to the Stop Online Piracy Act based on the amount of discretion the Department of Justice would have under the legislation as it is currently drafted. He plans to propose amendments that would reduce that discretion. Issa subsequently went on to cosponsor the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act.
He co-sponsored both the 2008 and 2009 versions (H.R. 6845 and H.R. 801, respectively) of the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act and sponsored the Research Works Act (H.R. 3699) introduced in 2011, all of which aim at a reversal of the NIH's Public Access Policy, which mandates open access to NIH-funded research.
Issa mounted an unsuccessful campaign to join the ranks of the House GOP leadership hierarchy. He finished third of the four candidates vying for the chairmanship of the House Republican Policy Committee, and was ultimately passed over in favor of Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI).
In 2001, Issa's district office in San Clemente was targeted in an aborted bombing plot. Jewish Defense League leader Irving Rubin was arrested along with Earl Krugel in connection with the plot, which reportedly had focused on other targets before shifting to Issa's office. Issa speculated that the cause of the incident may have been a column written by political commentator Debbie Schlussel in which she charged that Issa sympathized with Hezbollah despite its being listed by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization, charges he denied.
In September 2011, the liberal advocacy group American Family Voices filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics against Issa, alleging he had repeatedly used his public office for personal financial gain. Issa's office rejected the allegations.
However, the year before that the Project on Government Oversight, a government watchdog group, awarded Issa with its Good Government Award for his contributions to government oversight and transparency. These included publicizing documents produced by the New York Federal Reserve Bank in response to a congressional subpoena, publicly exposing the New York Federal Reserve's secret "back-door bailout" of AIG's counterparties, and cofounding a Transparency Caucus dedicated to "promoting a more open and accountable government through education, legislation, and oversight."
Middle East involvement
Issa is one of a few Lebanese-Americans in Congress and has had a significant role in U.S. peace initiatives in the Middle East. He traveled to Lebanon and Syria in an effort to negotiate the end of the Syrian occupation of Lebanon. In 2003, he appeared at a Washington rally by Iranian groups protesting against the Islamic government in Iran.
Issa supported the use of military force in Iraq (2002) and Afghanistan. On June 16, 2006, he voted to reject setting timetables for withdrawal from Iraq. On 5 April 2007, Issa met with Syrian president Bashar Assad to discuss Middle East issues, one day after Assad met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Oversight committee Chair
After becoming Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Issa has become a vocal advocate for investigations into the Obama administration, including the Troubled Assets Relief Program, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, corruption in Afghanistan, WikiLeaks, and the Food and Drug Administration, among other issues. In 2010 he told the press that he wanted the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to hold investigative hearings "seven hearings a week, times 40 weeks."
On February 16, 2012, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing on the Department of Health and Human Services's regulation requiring insurance plans to cover birth control, which Issa believed was a violation of the religious freedom of people who oppose the use of birth control. Sandra Fluke was submitted as a witness by Democratic members, but Issa did not permit her to testify, saying that her name was submitted too late, a claim Democrats challenged.
In February 2011, the Watchdog Institute, an independent nonprofit reporting center based at San Diego State University, published an investigation alleging that as leader of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Issa built a team that included staff members with close connections to industries that could benefit from his investigations. The Huffington Post also published the Institute's investigation.
In April 2008, the Daily News reported that Issa questioned federal expenditures made after 9/11. He was criticized for making comments that the federal government "'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'" and asking "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 September 2009, Issa's office released a statement indicating that his comments had been misrepresented and that the questions he asked concerned the then still unpassed bill H.R. 3543, which, according to that statement "would give U.S. taxpayer dollars to those who did not suffer physical injury and did not work at or around Ground Zero."
- Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (Chairman)
- As Chairman of the full committee, Rep. Issa may serve as an ex officio member of all subcommittees
- Committee on the Judiciary
2003 gubernatorial recall election
Issa came to national prominence in 2003 when he contributed over $1.6 million to help fund a signature-gathering drive for the petition to recall Gray Davis. At the time he made the contribution, it was widely believed that Issa intended to place himself on the ballot to replace Davis. However, following the entrance of fellow Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger into the race, two days before the filing deadline, Issa announced that he would not run. Issa later said that his mission had been accomplished since Davis was recalled and he wanted to continue representing his district in Congress and work towards Middle East peace. At one point in the campaign he suggested that people should vote against recalling Davis unless one of the two leading Republican contenders dropped out, concerned that Schwarzenegger and fellow Republican Tom McClintock would split votes, resulting in Democratic lieutenant governor Cruz Bustamante taking over as Davis' successor. Issa endorsed Schwarzenegger in the election.
- "Once a Soldier... Always a Soldier". Legislative Agenda. Association of the United States Army. 2011. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
- "District 49". California Redistricting Commission certified map. Healthy City. August 2011. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
- Issa, Darrell. "House Investigator Issa Has Faced Allegations As Well". NPR. Retrieved 21 June 2012.
- Roll Call (August 11, 2011).  CBS News.
- "The Dozen Richest Men and Women in Congress", NPR.
- Half of Congress Enjoys Millionaire Status, Study Shows, Fox News. Accessed April 17, 2012.
- Lizza, Ryan (January 24, 2011). "Don't Look Back". The New Yorker. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
- http://www. congress.org/bio/id/40137
- Broder, David S. (December 21, 1997). "California's Battle of the Bankbooks". The Washington Post.
- Williams, Lance. (May 29, 1998). Issa's Army record in doubt: Candidate's account can't be verified. San Francisco Chronicle.
- Williams, Lance (July 2, 2003), Darrell Issa held twice on illegal weapons charges and convicted in '70s on misdemeanor count, San Francisco Examiner
- "Issa's Army record in doubt". SFGate. 1998-05-29. Retrieved 2012-07-15.
- "Gen. Wes Clark Praises Darrell Issa's Military Service | TPM Document Collection". Talkingpointsmemo.com. Retrieved 2012-07-15.
- Leduff, Charlie (July 23, 2003). "California Recall Backer Feels Heat". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2010.
- Wildermuth, John (May 20, 1998). "Issa Raising More Money by Using His Own/Millionaire's funds create coffer bigger than Matt Fong's". San Francisco Chronicle.
- Williams, Lance; Coile, Zachary (June 3, 1998). "Asian Demos help set up showdown with Barbara Boxer". SF Chronicle.
- 2000 California congressional primary results
- 2000 California House results
- Burge, Michael (September 29, 2004). "Democrat is looking for a big upset over incumbent Issa in 49th District" SignOnSanDiego.com, San Diego Union-Tribune.
- "U.S. Congress District 49 - Districtwide Results". State of California. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
- "Darrell Issa profile". Washington Post. 2010. Retrieved June 18, 2010.
- "Issues & Legislation - Stem Cell Research". Congressman Issa's official website (November 11, 2009). Retrieved 2010-07-06.
- "Representative Darrell Issa (CA) Voting Record". votesmart.org; Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 2010-07-02.
- "GovTrack: H.Amdt. 490 to H.R. 3199 [109th] - 109th Congress". Govtrack.us. July 21, 2005. Retrieved 2011-08-21.
- "Key Vote Detail" votesmart.org; Project Vote Smart. Retrieved June 18, 2010.
- "Issues & Legislation - "Blue Card" System". issa.house.gov; Congressman Issa's official website. November 9, 2009. Retrieved 2010-07-06.
- "Cap-and-trade climate change legislation: House Roll Call #477 Details". OpenCongress. June 26, 2009. Retrieved 2011-08-21.
- "Issues & Legislation - Global Climate Change". issa.house.gov; Congressman Issa's official website. November 11, 2009. Retrieved 2010-07-06.
- "Issues & Legislation - Education - No Child Left Behind"; Congressman Issa's official website. November 11, 2009. Retrieved 2010-07-06.
- "Current Taxpayer Protection Pledge Signers in the 111th Congress". Americans for Tax Reform. Retrieved 2010-07-02.
- "Rep. Darrell Issa, a senior House Republican, is predicting a dim future for the Stop Online Piracy Act". C-Net. December 14, 2011. Retrieved January 10, 2012.
- Rep. Michael “Mike” Rogers [R-MI8]. "Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (H.R. 3523)". GovTrack.us. Retrieved 2012-07-15.
- Rosen, Rebecca J. (January 5, 2012). "Why Is Open-Internet Champion Darrell Issa Supporting an Attack on Open Science?". The Atlantic.
- Suber, Peter (2008). "An open access mandate for the National Institutes of Health". Open Medicine 2 (2): 39–41.
- "Issa endorses Romney". The Hill. September 22, 2011. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
- "Chair of Jewish Defense League Arrested in Failed Bomb Plot". Tolerance.org; Southern Poverty Law Center. December 12, 2001. Archived from the original 2001-12-13. Retrieved 2010-07-05.
- "Transcript: Issa on Bomb Plot". The Washington Post. September 21, 2000. Retrieved May 1, 2010.
- Cantlupe, Joe (December 24, 2001). "Rep. Issa's fight with columnist has dark side". SignOnSanDiego.com; San Diego Union Tribune. Copley News Service.
- Schlussel, Debbie (November 30, 2001). "Darrell Issa: Traitor, or useful idiot?". Political USA blog. Archived from the original, 2002-08-21.
- Madison, Lucy (2011-09-13) Liberal group files ethics complaint against Darrell Issa, CBS News
- "Good Government Award Home Page". Project On Government Oversight Website. Retrieved July 1, 2010.
- Staff (June 29, 2010). "Press Room - Issa Recognized for Rigorous Government Oversight" (Press Release); Congressman Issa Official Website. Retrieved 2010-07-02.
- (unfiled) (July 9, 2003). "Congress joins rally against Tehran regime". Washington Times
- "Representative Darrell Issa (CA) Voting Record". votesmart.org; Project Vote Smart.
- AP (April 6, 2007). "Issa meets with Syrian president Assad". nctimes.com; North County Times. Retrieved 2010-07-06.
- "ATFL Administration". atfl.org; American Task Force for Lebanon. Retrieved 2010-06-18.
- "Republican plans investigations of 'corrupt' Obama administration". USA Today. January 3, 2011.
- "Darrell Issa plans hundreds of hearings". Politico. November 8, 2010.
- O’Keefe, Ed (March 28, 2012). "‘Where are the women?’ dispute settled. Kind of.". The Washington Post.
- Kiff, Sarah (February 16, 2012). "Contraception Controversy Continues: Meet Witness Sandra Fluke". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 3, 2012.
- Williams, Brooke; Pearce, Matt (February 28, 2011). "Industry insiders score jobs on Issa's team". Investigative Newsource. Retrieved December 4, 2011.
- Snyder, Whitney (February 28, 2011). "Darrell Issa's Team Includes Industry Insiders". Huffington Post. Retrieved December 4, 2011.
- Sisk, Richard and McCauliff, Michael (April 3, 2008). "GOP Rep. Darrell Issa under fire from everywhere after 9/11 comments", New York Daily News.
- "Setting the Record Straight for the 9/11 hearing held on April 1, 2008". issa.house.gov. September 11, 2009. Retrieved January 10, 2011.
- "H.R. 3543: James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2007". govtrack.usa. Retrieved January 10, 2011.
- "Darrell Issa pulls out of Calif. recall election". USA Today. Associated Press. August 7, 2003. Retrieved April 19, 2010.
- Wildermuth, John (September 23, 2003). "Issa, who started recall, now tells voters to reject it / Risk of GOP vote being split prompts call to retain Davis". sfgate.com; San Francisco Chronicle.
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- U.S. Congressman Darrell Issa official U.S. House site
- Darrell Issa for U.S. Congressman official campaign site
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Biography, voting record, and interest group ratings at Project Vote Smart
- Congressional profile at GovTrack
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- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Financial information (federal office) at OpenSecrets.org
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- Issue positions and quotes at On the Issues
- Voting record at The Washington Post
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- Collected news and commentary at The New York Times
- Collected news and commentary at The Washington Post
- Directed Electronics
|United States House of Representatives|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 48th congressional district
Susan Davis (politician)
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 49th congressional district
|Chairman of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee
|United States order of precedence|
|United States Representatives by seniority