Strong letter from CA Congressman Darrell Issa to Rahm Emanuel, White House Chief of Staff

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The following August 4th letter from CA Congressman Darrell Issa does not sugar coat his remarks to Rahm Emanuel, White House Chief of staff, charging him with engaging in Chicago style scare tactics.
 Note: I have deleted the back up references in posting this exact text.

CHAIRMAN                                                         DARRELL E. ISSA, CALIFORNIA                                                                     RANKING MINORITY MEMBER


2157 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-6143

Majority {202) 225-5051
Minority (202) 225-5074

August 4,2009

The Honorable Rahm Emanuel
White House Chief of Staff
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. Emanuel:
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%.

The Honorable Rahm Emanuel
August 4,2009
Page 2
I thought the outdated and discredited Keynesian economic theory behind your effort was misguided and I opposed the stimulus.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

The Honorable Rahm Emanuel
August 4,2009
Page 3

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 headline: “Mr. President: Don’t Bully Arizona.” 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 refening 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.

The Honorable Rahm Emanuel
August 4,2009
Page 4
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,


   Darrell E. Issa
      Ranking Member

cc: The Honorable Edolphus Towns, Chairman

Definition of Terms
1.  The term “record” means any written, recorded, or graphic matter of any nature whatsoever, regardless of how recorded, and whether original or copy, including, but not limited to, the following: memoranda, reports, expense reports, books, manuals, instructions, financial reports, working papers, records notes, letters, notices, confirmations, telegrams, receipts, appraisals, pamphlets, magazines, newspapers, prospectuses, interoffice and intraoffice communications, electronic mail (e-mail), contracts, cables, notations of any type of conversation, telephone call, meeting or other communication, bulletins, printed matter, computer printouts, teletypes, invoices, transcripts, diaries, analyses, returns, summaries, minutes, bills, accounts, estimates, projections, comparisons, messages, correspndence, press releases, circulars, financial statements, reviews, opinions, offers, studies and investigations, questionnaires and surveys, and work sheets
(and all drafts, preliminary versions, alterations, modifications, revisions,
changes, and amendments of any of the foregoing, as well as any attachments or appendices thereto), and graphic or oral records or representations of any kind (including without limitation, photographs, charts, graphs, microfiche, microfilm, videotape, recordings and motion pictures), and electronic, mechanical, and electric records or representations of any kind (including, without limitation, tapes, cassettes, disks, and recordings) and other written, printed, typed, or other graphic or recorded matter of any kind or nature, however produced or reproduced, and whether preserved in writing, film, tape, disk, videotape or otherwise. A record bearing any notation not a part of the original text is to be
considered a separate record. A draft or non-identical copy is a separate record within the meaning of this term.
2. The term “communication” means each manner or means of disclosule or
exchange of information, regardless of means utilized, whether oral, electronic, by document or otherwise, and whether face-to-face, in a meeting, by telephone, mail, telexes, discussions, releases, personal delivery, or otherwise.

3. The terms “referring or relating,” with respect to any given subject, means
anything that constitutes, contains, embodies, reflects, identifies, states, refers to, deals with or is in any manner whatsoever pertinent to that subject.


Final Gilbert comment. Let’s see who blinks first. A deadline has been issued for Tuesday, August 11th. Stay tuned.

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