Obama’s Potential Watchdog: Darrell Issa

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As the potential next chairman of the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee, Darrell Issa has pondered what former chairman he might emulate. Certainly, as Democrats face possibly losing the House, it’s a question that has crossed more than a few minds. Will he be like Republican Dan Burton, who issued more than 1,000 subpoenas to the Clinton Administration and ultimately embarrassed his Party by overreaching? Or will he be like Henry Waxman, the California Democrat who orchestrated spectacles that Hollywood producers in his district would envy? Or would he be like Edolphus Towns, the low-key current chairman?

“I chose not to use the model of either Dan Burton – most of what he looked at should have gone through the Attorney General or broadly through Congress or shouldn’t have been an emphasis — or Henry Waxman, everything he did was written by plaintiff lawyers in a lawsuit. What he was really doing was assisting prosecution of plaintiffs’ cases… Not Burton, Waxman or Towns. I’d be a little bit of Tom Davis’s model. Tom was and is a good government Republican. He was my mentor in Congress. I do still seek advice from him.”

Davis, a Virginia Republican, chaired the panel from 2003 until his retirement in 2008. He was considered a moderate and often worked well with Waxman, then the ranking Democrat on the committee. Davis, though, was doing oversight on a Republican Administration (similarly, Towns, a Democrat, has hardly been issuing subpoenas to the Obama Administration). That wouldn’t be the case for Issa, and if his line up is any indication reporters would have plenty to write about. Here’s a story from me in this week’s dead tree edition about Issa’s plans.