Darrell Issa: Lobbyist Attempted to Stop Questioning of Witness

Issa threatens to get American Bar Association involved over potential interference with Congress

Elijah Cummings, Darrell Issa / AP

Top members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said a lobbyist attempted to stop them from questioning a witness Tuesday.

At a hearing on federal records laws and transparency, Oversight leaders released an email from a lobbyist asking that questions not be directed to Jonathan Silver, whom the committee had called to testify.

"If possible … do not direct questions to Jonathan Silver … He’s a client of my firm …  :)," the email read.

The name of the lobbyist was not disclosed nor was the recipient of the email.

Silver, now a senior fellow at the D.C. think tank Third Way, was formerly the head of the Department of Energy’s 1705 loan program that awarded taxpayer-backed loans to green energy companies such as Solyndra. Silver’s involvement in the loan program made him a frequent witness during the GOP-led committee’s investigations.

Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) released the email in the middle of the hearing and expressed outrage.

"I want an explanation from your counsel on why we shouldn’t refer this to the American Bar Association," Issa told Silver. "The question of whether we refer this to the Bar Association, whether in fact it’s an interference with Congress, which I find it to be, and the like, will need to be resolved with the ranking member and myself after this hearing."

Ranking Democrat on the committee Elijah Cummings (Md.) also appeared troubled by the email.

"I hope this is not what it appears to be because I think it would be very unfortunate. It would be clearly out of bounds," he said.