Darrell Issa investigating White House political office
By Meghashyam Mali | FEBRUARY 11, 2014 AT 7:39 AM
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., is launching an investigation into the White House's decision to reopen its political office.
The White House announced it was reopening its political office — renamed the Office of Political Strategy and Outreach — last month to better coordinate with Democrats and aid the party's candidates with messaging and fundraising ahead of the 2014 midterms.
The unit is being headed by David Simas, a longtime Obama adviser who helped develop the administration's Obamacare messaging.
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In his letter to Carolyn Lerner at the Office of the Special Counsel, Issa questioned if tax dollars would be used to aid Democrats.
“Reestablishing OPA raises serious concerns about the illegal use of taxpayer funds to support congressional campaigns during the 2014 midterm elections,” Issa wrote.
The chairman called for “all documents and communications, including e-mails, between OSC and the White House referring or relating to the Office of Political Strategy and Outreach or the reopening of the Office of Political Affairs.”
Issa noted that as a candidate for president, then-Sen. Obama had criticized the role of President Bush’s White House political office, charging that it had been used as “another arm of the Republican National Committee.”
Obama closed the White House political office in 2011. That year the OSC also released a report finding that Bush administration officials had repeatedly broken federal laws which prohibit officials from engaging in some political activities.
“The rebranded version of OPA appears to be undertaking precisely the same political activities with which OSC found fault in its 2011 report,” wrote Issa.
“According to White House officials, the new political director will be permitted to engage in ‘overtly partisan activity’ on the White house grounds,” he added.
The White House political office was reopened after growing concern from Democrats that the botched Obamacare rollout and weak economic recovery would hurt their midterm prospects.