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Citizen Watchdogs to Aid Rep. Issa in Oversight Investigations

Every project undertaken by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will involve citizens and activists having their say.

by
Patrick Richardson

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February 17, 2011 - 12:00 am
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Representative Darrell Issa (R-California) is taking an unusual step.

The chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is certain that government is in the way of job creation. So instead of calling CEOs or lobbyists in front of his committee to testify, he’s asking small businesses to go to a website, www.americanjobcreators.com, and fill out a short form with information on how government is keeping them from creating new jobs.

“There are lots of people in the country upset with the direction of the nation,” said Seamus Kraft, director of digital strategy and press secretary for the committee. “We’re kind of sitting in the middle between the people who want something done and the government who can get something done even if it’s just to get out of the way.”

According to Kraft, legislators are not necessarily the ones with the answers.

“We don’t have all the answers — no one on either side of the aisle does,” he said. “We’re trying to find a way to let the real experts, the real citizen watchdogs, have a say. We want to allow it to inform the regulatory reform we’re undertaking.”

Kraft said they are building on their successful citizen watchdog effort of last year called “Signs of a Failed Stimulus,” in which Issa encouraged citizens to take pictures of the stimulus road signs  — at least one of which, as PJM reported, cost $10,000 — and send them to a House website.

“About 1,000 unique signs came in,” Kraft said. “From a cost benefit it was ridiculously effective.”

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