Policy: Labor

Darrell Issa demands documents on White House political office

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House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., is pressing the White House to provide documents for his probe into potential Hatch Act violations.

In a letter Tuesday to White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, Issa raised questions about whether the White House political office is improperly using taxpayer money to promote Democratic party and its candidates.

Issa asked McDonough to "produce all documents and communications, including e-mails, related or referring to the Office of Political Strategy and Outreach or the reopening of the Office of Political Affairs, as soon as possible, but by no later than noon on April 1, 2014."

In a separate letter to Carolyn Lerner, the head of the Office of Special Counsel, Issa also asked for information about whether former Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis violated the Hatch Act during the 2012 election.

Issa raised questions about Solis attending a fundraiser for Obama in March of 2012 and requested all documents "related to any OSC investigation" into her involvement with the event.

President Obama closed the White House political office in 2011 after the Office of the Special Counsel released a report finding that officials during the George W. Bush administration had broken federal laws prohibiting them from engaging in political activity.

The White House re-opened the unit under a new name — the Office of Political Strategy and Outreach — in January to better coordinate with Democrats on messaging and fundraising ahead of November's crucial midterm elections.

The office is headed by David Simas, a longtime Obama adviser who helped formulate the administration's Obamacare messaging strategy.

Issa, though, has questioned if the unit is using tax dollars to help Democrats, launching a new probe into the matter and asking the OSC for any documents they had on the White House decision to reopen the office.

"The decision to reopen OPA heightens concerns about the illegal use of taxpayer funds to support congressional campaigns during the 2014 midterm elections," said Issa in his letter Tuesday.

"The Hatch Act requires a clear dichotomy between the constitutional and statutory duties of federal officials and any political or campaign-related activities in which they engage," he added.

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