A left-leaning government watchdog organization filed ethics complaints Wednesday against House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) for revealing sealed federal documents in the ongoing Operation Fast and Furious scandal.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), in complaints filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics and the Department of Justice, accused Issa of violating federal law by putting sealed federal wiretap applications in the Congressional Record.
The ethics complaint was a nakedly partisan effort by CREW to support the cover-up of the operation by the Obama administration, said House Oversight spokeswoman Becca Watkins.
“It is shameful that an organization purporting to support good and transparent government is instead making itself complicit in an effort to cover-up a reckless government effort that contributed to the death of a Border Patrol agent,” Watkins said. “While CREW’s liberal leanings and dependence on anonymous donors have long been known, this latest action further exposes the naked partisan nature of an organization run by Democratic operatives."
The wiretap applications were part of Operation Fast and Furious, in which Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents allowed thousands of high-powered firearms to be smuggled across the border and into the hands of violent drug cartels.
Until earlier this year, CREW was a member of the Democracy Alliance, a secretive cabal of left-wing groups that collectively receive millions of dollars annually from deep-pocketed liberal philanthropists such as George Soros. The organization does not reveal its donors.
CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said Issa sidestepped federal law by entering the sealed wiretap applications into the Congressional Record, which grants him immunity under the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution.
“It is ironic that by revealing the warrant application to further his effort to have Attorney General Eric Holder held in contempt, Rep. Issa was willing to flirt with his own potential contempt charge,” Sloan said in a statement.
In 2010, Sloan announced at a Democracy Alliance summit that she was leaving CREW to join the law firm of Lanny Davis, former White House special counsel to Bill Clinton. Davis' firm specializes in legal crisis management for Democrats. However, Sloan changed her mind a month later, announcing she would remain at CREW.
After guns linked to Fast and Furious were found at the murder scene of a U.S. Border Patrol agent, the Oversight Committee began a more than yearlong investigation into the operation.
However, Issa said the Department of Justice repeatedly stonewalled the committee’s attempts to obtain documents on the fatal operation, leading him to pursue contempt charges against Attorney General Eric Holder.
Holder was held in contempt of Congress earlier this month.