Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has been dominating headlines over the past week for his aggressive attempts to take down Attorney General Eric Holder over his involvement in the “Fast and Furious” scandal. In his zeal to tie Holder to a crime, however, Issa accidentally reminded viewers of his own criminal past during an interview on ABC’s “This Week.”
While discussing the scandal with Jake Tapper on Sunday morning, Issa beat back charges that he was ignoring the fact that “gun walking” programs like Fast and Furious actually began under the Bush Administration.
“The whole point of this thing is a little bit like when you do something wrong and then lie about it as a young person, you can’t say, oh, after you get caught, my brother did it, too,” Issa said.
As it turns out, Issa is especially familiar with this strategy: it’s exactly what he did when he got indicted for grand theft in 1979.
As Ryan Lizza reported in The New Yorker:
According to court records, on December 28, 1979, William Issa arrived at Smythe European Motors, in San Jose, and offered to sell Darrell’s car, a red 1976 Mercedes sedan. William was carrying an Ohio driver’s license with his brother’s name on it and the dealer gave William a check for sixteen thousand dollars, which he immediately cashed. Soon afterward, Darrell reported the car stolen from the Monterey airport. He later told the police that he had left the title in the trunk.
The brothers had been together in Cleveland for Christmas, and, after Darrell gave a series of conflicting statements about his brother and whether he himself had recently obtained a second driver’s license, the investigator in the case became suspicious that the two men had conspired to fraudulently sell Darrell’s car and then collect the insurance money.
The brothers were indicted for grand theft. Darrell argued that he had no knowledge of William’s activities; William claimed that his brother had authorized him to sell the car, and he produced a document dated a few weeks before the robbery that gave him power of attorney over his brother’s affairs. On February 15th, with the investigation ongoing, Darrell returned to the San Jose dealership and repurchased his car, for seventeen thousand dollars. In August, 1980, the prosecution dropped the case. Darrell insisted that he was a victim, not a criminal. William had produced evidence that he had the legal authority to sell the car, and the injured party was reimbursed.
In other words, Issa got caught doing something wrong as a young person, and tried to blame his brother for it.
Issa’s Freudian slip will not directly impact his ongoing Fast and Furious circus, but it does serve as a reminder that his past is filled with criminal allegations including the grand theft charge, investigations for arson, fraud, and intimidation with a weapon, and a conviction on a misdemeanor gun charge. And that maybe Darrell Issa isn’t the most trustworthy source on the topic of crimes and the coverups that follow them.
Video of Issa’s full interview is below; his accidental allusion to the grand theft incident comes at the 5:20 mark.