Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 12, 2016

Issa Refuses to Drop Simas Subpoena After White House Plea (Updated)

The White House wants Issa to drop his latest subpoena.

The White House wants Issa to drop his latest subpoena. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 9:35 a.m. July 15 | House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa is still demanding — for now — that top White House political adviser David Simas appear on Capitol Hill Wednesday, despite a plea Monday from the top White House lawyer that the subpoena be dropped.

“The subpoena for Mr. Simas’ testimony remains in effect,” Issa spokeswoman Becca Glover Watkins said in an emailed statement. “The White House has had multiple opportunities to work with Congress to date, and has neglected to do so. Chairman Issa has allowed that if the White House provided the requested information to the Committee, he would reconsider but at present Mr. Simas is still expected to appear at Wednesday’s hearing.”

In a letter to the California Republican on Monday, White House Counsel W. Neil Eggleston said that subpoenaing the testimony of the president’s top advisers has raised separation of powers concerns for multiple presidents.

“The Committee’s effort to compel Mr. Simas’s testimony threatens longstanding interests of the Executive Branch in preserving the President’s independence and autonomy and his ability to obtain candid advice and counsel to aid him in the discharge of his constitutional duties,” Eggleston wrote.

Eggleston urged Issa to drop the subpoena while offering to provide a briefing in lieu of public testimony on Tuesday. That suggests there’s a chance that the briefing could satisfy Issa.

Eggleston also said Issa had yet to show any evidence that Simas has violated the Hatch Act, the law that limits the political activity of federal employees.

The hearing is titled “White House Office of Political Affairs: Is Supporting Candidates and Campaign Fund-Raising an Appropriate Use of a Government Office?”

“In an effort to appease its political allies, the Obama Administration broadcast its intention to re-open a political office within the White House to assist in partisan election efforts and fundraising,” Issa said last week. “This hearing will examine abuses of taxpayer funds for political gain and the level of White House commitment to preventing them.”

Simas’ title is assistant to the president and director of the Office of Political Strategy & Outreach.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest dismissed Issa’s subpoena during Friday’s briefing, saying that the office is in full compliance with the Hatch Act.

“To date, there’s not even any suggestion, let alone evidence, that we’ve deviated from the requirements of the Hatch Act,” he said. “In fact, the Office of Special Counsel recognized in its 2011 report the propriety of having an office in the White House to provide the president with information about the current political environment and political issues nationwide.”

Issa and the White House have exchanged several letters over the political office, with Issa referring to newspaper reports of Simas’s activities and the White House asserting repeatedly that Issa has not identified a single specific charge of wrongdoing.

In an earlier letter, Eggleston questioned the desire to have Simas testify.

“It raises the specter that the Committee’s desire for information may not be limited to OPSO’s compliance with the Hatch Act but instead may extend to internal information about Mr. Simas’ analysis and advice on the current political environment and how that informs the President’s development of policy and his other actions,” he wrote. “I am certain we both agree that neither political party should have the ability to conduct a partisan inquiry to gain inside information in seeking political advantage; our desire to reach a mutual accommodation must reflect that.”

July 15 update:

The committee’s ranking member, Elijah Cummings, D-Md., also lodged another protest with Issa over the subpoena. Cummings, who has frequently sparred with Issa, has complained about a ramping up of subpoenas by the chairman without debate or a vote of the committee.

“Issuing a congressional subpoena to a senior advisor to the President is not an action to be taken unilaterally, with no debate, and without adequate foundation,” Cummings said in a letter to Issa. “In the case of Mr. Simas, you have not demonstrated any valid justification for this extreme action. As a result, it appears that this subpoena is the latest in a string of misguided and increasingly desperate efforts to retain the spotlight while lobbing unsubstantiated attacks against the White House.”

  • Prismatic

    Now that his own party has shut down his Benghazi hearings and turned them over to someone else after he failed to make any progress, Issa needs a new issue to keep him in the headlines.

  • anAmericanMom

    –White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest dismissed Issa’s subpoena during Friday’s briefing, saying that the office is in full compliance with the Hatch Act.–

    Especially when compliance to them means recycling those hard drives, two so far what else are we missing, perhaps permanently?

    As to the IRS if it was Communist organizations that were targeted.. it would be called McCharthyism. But then again Mc Carthy was right.

  • anAmericanMom

    Maybe they are simply waiting on at least 26 persons to resurface. If of course THEY have not been permanently recycled.

  • anAmericanMom

    The closer it gets the more we see and find the more I am betting we see a few Resignations.. or suicides.. nah commies are immoral and cowards.

    How about squealing like little piglets.

  • Puresnow

    “… Obama adviser David Simas (an appointed/not elected Obama advisor) is immune from the “extraordinary demand” of being forced to testify before the House Oversight Committee…”

    Really? No oversight by any elected representation of the People?
    I thought the Constitution said differently.–politics.html

  • Puresnow

    “…the Simas subpoena “threatens longstanding interests of the executive branch in preserving the president’s independence and autonomy…”

    Autonomy? Which branch of Government is autonomous per the Constitution?–politics.html

Sign In

Forgot password?



Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...