Sources familiar with the inner workings of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform say a letter from Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), in which Kucinich takes umbrage at comments made by Issa on CNN, is little more than an attempt to gain the ranking member slot when the change of power occurs in January. Issa is the presumptive committee chair.
The letter, which was sent on Nov. 11 and obtained by PJM, attempts to call Issa to task for saying the $787 billion stimulus amounted to little more than “walking around money” for Obama.
Sources close to the committee say Kucinich is simply trying to position himself as someone strong enough to stand up to Issa, who has reportedly run rings around Ed Towns (D-Brooklyn), the current committee chairman and presumptive ranking member.
According to a story in the New York Daily News, congressional sources said some Democrats and the White House are worried Towns doesn’t have what it will take to counter Issa as chairman and are seeking his ouster.
In the way of Kucinich gaining the seat are Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland).
Sources speaking on condition of anonymity say Maloney has made clear she wants either the No. 2 slot on Oversight or the No. 2 slot on Financial Services. Neither is a position she’s liable to get. The Congressional Black Caucus will resist her on Oversight, and to be the ranking member of Financial Services would require the ouster of Rep. Barney Frank — which is unlikely at best. Moreover, Cummings has let it be known he would like Towns’ job. Cummings is a power within the CBC and a leading candidate for the job if the 76-year-old Towns is shunted aside.
Enter Kucinich, who wants the job and is trying hard to show that he could restrain Issa. He is also trying to convince the Democrat leadership to take the hit with the CBC in order to put him in the job.
In the letter, Kucinich castigates Issa for using the term “walking around money”:
That term, as you may know, refers to the use by certain political campaigns of money for off-the-books, wholly unaccountable, and potentially illegal purposes. It does not begin to describe funds subject to the bimonthly scrutiny of the Government Accountability Office, which has issued no less than 10 reports on the use of stimulus funds; or the publications and websites of every Federal agency that committed stimulus funds; or the investigations and reports of the Inspectors General of those agencies; or the 50 state websites devoted to accounting for the use of stimulus funds in that state; or the various publications of the Council of State Governments; the U.S. Conference of Mayors, or the National Conference of State Legislatures.