Special Topic

Congressman Who Hired Bank Lobbyists As Senior Staffers Now Threatens Politicized Investigation Of Occupy Wall Street

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA)

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the chairman of the committee tasked with investigating on behalf of the public interest, is launching a politicized probe of Occupy Wall Street. Using his position as the head of the House Oversight Committee, Issa filed a letter asking the Department of Justice to look into accusations that New York Communities for Change “misappropriated” funds in support of the Occupy Wall Street protests. The request, which is bizarre given that NYCC has openly embraced the 99 Percent Movement, comes after revelations, first reported by ThinkProgress, that several senior staffers with Issa are revolving door bank lobbyists.

New York Communities for Change has organized protests against the big banks, and worked to mobilize people around issues like predatory lending practices and fraud on Wall Street. Issa’s transparent smear campaign against NYCC, as some sort of zombie ACORN organization, only serves the bank lobby’s interests. Since so many lobbyists have spun through the revolving door and onto Issa’s staff, bank lobbyists could actually be directing Issa’s new campaign from within Congress:

Issa’s Staff Director Is A Longtime Lobbyist For Private Student Loan Companies, Including Banks Like CitiGroup: In July, ThinkProgress reported that Issa had hired Peter Warren to be his staff director for investigations. Until last year, Warren was the chief lobbyist for a trade group that represents Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Discover Student Loans, on issues related to student loan policy. Our story revealed that Warren, on his congressional ethics forms, signed a special severance contract with his previous employer, suggesting a bonus, incentive package or special arrangement so Warren could move into Issa’s office.

One Of Issa’s Top Investigators Is A Revolving Door Lobbyist For Goldman Sachs: In August, ThinkProgress reported that Issa hired Peter Haller, a former lobbyist and Goldman Sachs official, as a financial investigator. Haller’s hadn’t been noticed by other good government groups because he had changed his last name between working for Goldman Sachs and Issa. We found several letters showing that Haller had supervised Issa efforts to block regulators from imposing new rules on investment banks like Goldman Sachs. Haller’s biography, in a way, encapsulates the revolving door problem: Haller had worked at the Securities and Exchange Commission, and later took a job at Goldman Sachs to work on regulatory advocacy.

As Lucas O’Connor has reported on his Issa Watch blog, Issa has a history of running interference for the banking industry. Issa launched a number of attacks on the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission as an effort to undermine any report that showed that Wall Street was responsible for the financial crisis.

The cozy relationship between Issa and Wall Street goes beyond Issa’s staff. ThinkProgress broke the story that Issa, while fighting to derail an SEC investigation of a case in which Goldman Sachs had bet against its own customer’s investments, Issa purchased large quantities of Goldman Sachs bonds.