The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Whitewashing of Left-Wing Lies Targeting Darrell Issa

Kurt Bardella Darrell Issa, Kurt Bardella 5 Comments

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This Just in From Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-Vista) office:

The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Whitewashing of Lies from Left-Wing Think Tank

The San Diego Union Tribune’s April 2nd story, Issa’s Earmarks Questioned, was based on a false allegation by the liberal think tank Center for American Progress that San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Jeff McDonald sanitized and white-washed to publicly present the remnants of wholly unfounded allegations.  This one-sided story left out critical information: the clear reasons why Rep. Issa supported the widening of West Vista Way; the fact that in 2009 Rep. Issa stopped requesting earmarks altogether; and clear factual errors in the Center for American Progress’ false allegation.

Background:

On March 30, The Center for American Progress made the sensationalized accusation that Vista, California Congressman Darrell Issa requested millions in federal taxpayer money for a road project in front of a medical office building at 2067 West Vista Way in Vista, California, in order to benefit a company owned by Rep. Issa’s family.  This allegation by the Center for American Progress, however, relied on clear distortions and misrepresentations – despite knowing about and acknowledging these distortions and factual errors, the San Diego Union-Tribune whitewashed them in their piece attacking Rep. Issa.

False Allegation #1The Center for American Progress’ Big Lie:

The Center for American Progress alleged Rep. Issa was seeking federal taxpayer funds to enhance the value of a building property – the Vista Medical Center on West Vista Way – his company had recently purchased.

The Reality – Rep. Issa didn’t own the building:

At the time Rep. Issa was requesting funds for improving West Vista Way, his company did not own the Vista Medical Center.

Rep. Issa’s company did not purchase the Vista Medical Center building until October 3, 2008 – the company that sold the building announced the sale on October 8, 2008

The last annual request Rep. Issa made for funding improvements to West Vista Way was publicly announced on March 4, 2008 – more than 6 months before Rep. Issa’s company bought the Vista Medical Center.  On March 10, 2009, citing President Obama’s broken promises on earmarks, Rep. Issa announced he would not be requesting earmarks and has not requested any appropriations projects since then.

How the San Diego Union-Tribune Whitewashed It:

Even though the allegation was clearly false, The San Diego Union-Tribune credited Think Progress for having previously reported that Issa “appears to be helping himself” and failed to note that the entire premise of Think Progress’ story was false.  This happened despite the fact that Union-Tribune reporter McDonald had acknowledged to Rep. Issa’s office that the Think Progress report was flawed and had written in an e-mail, “I don’t want to attribute anything to Think Progress.” 

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False Allegation #2 – Timing of Funding Requests:The Center for American Progress claimed, “Issa began requesting highway earmarks near his property in 2008; then again in 2009.”

The Reality:

On April 14, 2006, Rep. Issa publicly announced and posted on his website a funding request for West Vista Way.  The Center for American Progress blog did not include this inconvenient fact that undermined their false theory.

The claim that Rep. Issa made another appropriations project request in 2009 is simply false – never happened.  President Obama’s stimulus gluttony had convinced Rep. Issa that he could no longer participate in the earmark request system

How the San Diego Union-Tribune Whitewashed It:

The San Diego Union-Tribune story didn’t note the Center for American Progress’ clear error or the fact that Rep. Issa had announced he would no longer seek appropriations project earmark requests.

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False allegation #3 – Motivation:The Center for American Progress suggests Rep. Issa’s funding request in 2008 was the result of self-interest rather than public interest.

 The Reality – Rep. Issa could not have made the request if the Vista City Council hadn’t decided it was in the public interest:

In 2008, Rep. Issa publicly announced that he would only make requests for local governments if the city council voted to ask Rep. Issa to make a request.  The Vista City Council subsequently voted to ask Rep. Issa to make the request for funds to improve West Vista Way and it was designated as the city’s top funding request for the year.  SANDAG also requested funding for the project.  Even beyond the fact that he did not own the property in question, under this policy, Rep. Issa could not have initiated a request for self-benefit.

What the San Diego Union-Tribune Didn’t Tell Readers:

The San Diego Union-Tribune story didn’t note that Rep. Issa had instituted this policy in 2008 or that the Vista City Council had requested the funding in a resolution.  Budget cuts at the Union-Tribune also appear to have hit the North County bureau especially hard because local knowledge or examination of a map would have revealed that the medical center building Rep. Issa’s company later purchased was located next to a hospital and had freeway visibility raising questions about how the widening of a surface street (which hasn’t even occurred) would meaningfully increase the property’s accessibility or value.

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False Allegation #4 – Suggestion that Rep. Issa may have violated House rules:The Center for American Progress subtly suggested Rep. Issa violated House Rules as it explained, “ethics experts have explained, lawmakers should avoid earmarks in the immediate area of their own business interests.”

The Reality:

At the time of his 2008 request for West Vista Way, House rules required that Members making a request certify that neither the Member nor the Member’s spouse has any financial interest in the earmark.  As Rep. Issa’s company did not own the Vista Medical Center at the time of the request, his submission was fully compliant with House rules.

How the San Diego Union-Tribune Parroted the False Claim:

One voice in the Union-Tribune story, Robert Stern of the Center for Governmental Studies explained that because the earmarks were noticed before Issa bought the office building, there is no conflict of interest.  The Union-Tribune, however, didn’t appear satisfied by this explanation and actively sought out partisan voices to buttress the allegations made by the Center for American Progress.

In doing so, the Union-Tribune covered up a clear bias held against Rep. Issa.  One of the organizations quoted by the Union-Tribune, CREW, is run by former Democratic congressional staffer Melanie Sloan.  A search of “Issa” on CREW’s website yields 336 items – almost all of them are partisan accusations.  The Sacramento Bee, Politico, Roll Call, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, CNN, USA Today, and the Associated Press have all labeled CREW as either “left” or “liberal” leaning in stories.  The San Diego Union-Tribune story, however, described CREW as “non-partisan.”

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False Allegation #5 – Who is the Accuser?The Center for American Progress likes to falsely have itself portrayed as a good-government group dedicated to “new policy ideas

The Reality:

The Center for American Progress was founded by John Podesta – the co-chairman of the Obama-Biden transition project and the brother of one of Washington D.C.’s most powerful lobbyists Tony Podesta.  It is a central component of the left-wing smear machine. 

Their motivation in making these false allegations is not to improve government but to smear Rep. Darrell Issa in retaliation for his work to stop the earmark spending spree of President Obama and other important efforts to hold the Administration accountable.  Rep. Issa has been a leader in the earmark reform effort, being one of the first Members of Congress to voluntarily post all requests on his website in 2006, urging his colleagues to do the same in 2007, saying no to making earmark requests for for-profit entities in 2008, and swearing off earmarks all together in 2009

What the San Diego Union-Tribune Didn’t Tell Readers:

Nothing in the UT story touched on the factual errors, motivation for attacking Rep. Issa, Rep. Issa’s leadership on earmark reform, or the interests that fund and support the Center for American Progress.

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Comments 5

  1. Wonkburger takes his politics rare and endorses any effort to clog liberal arteries. But this post is confusing. Not in its dogged defense of Darrell but in the byline of the young bootlick who posted it. Darrell Issa fired Kurt Bardella. Yet from the smoldering crater that remains of his career, Bardella delivered a swift kick to the U-T Watchdog’s kidneys. Is this repentance from a loyal lapdog? Did the Representative from Vista toss Bardella a bone — or rehire him? Wonkburger is confused! And confusion exposes the great Republican apparatus to liberal sabotage!

  2. Wonk, we note the post starts with “This Just in From Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-Vista) office,” as if the missive generated from Issa, but was posted by Bardella. Maybe Kurt could clarify.

  3. Post
    Author

    Thor’s Assistant is correct. As the very first line indicates – “This Just in From Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-Vista) office” meaning it is NOT content generated by me, but rather by the Congressman’s office. As always, thanks for the feedback and analysis Wonk.

  4. Kurt Bardella is keeping his head up HIGH after a setback,
    a character trait anyone can admire, whether in sports or
    politics.

    Football Coach Vince Lombardi said, of life and foootball,
    “It’s not whether you get knocked down. It’s whether you
    get back up.”

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