Condemn Abuse of Power and Censorship in Committee Hearing


Target: Speaker of the House John Boehner

Goal: Condemn Issa’s recent attempts to silence Democrats in committee hearings

In a recent Congressional committee hearing over the IRS scandal involving targeted audits of Tea Party groups, chairman Darrell Issa repeatedly refused to allow the committee’s top Democrat, Maryland representative Elijah Cummings, to make a comment and eventually cut off the microphones and sound system.

The committee in question is involved in investigating various alleged wrong-doings by the Obama administration. During the hearing, Lois Lerner, a former IRS official, repeatedly invoked the Fifth Amendment, which provides the right against self-incrimination, and refused to answer questions. After Issa made her invoke that right 10 times, Cummings raised his hand and attempted to make a comment. Issa ignored him multiple times, saying the committee had been adjourned and the hearing was over.

Issa then pressed a button that cut off Cummings’ microphone and instructed a staff member to turn off the entire sound system. Democrats claim that this is a violation of House rules, which are supposed to allow for an equal amount of time for each committee member to question witnesses. Further, such actions by the chairman are making the investigation a one-sided affair, essentially removing Democrats from the inquiry by not allowing Democratic members of the committee to question witnesses. ‘The minority should have the opportunity to express our views and ask our questions,’ Cummings said.

Issa’s actions highlight the schism in Congress and, according to Democrats, represent an abuse of power by a committee chair and an effort to distort the investigation procedures. While Issa was likely frustrated by Lerner’s refusal to cooperate, that does not excuse his actions in silencing another member of the committee. Sign this petition to ask Speaker of the House John Boehner to condemn Issa’s actions and promote a fair investigation in which both sides are allowed to speak.


Dear Speaker of the House John Boehner,

The recent actions by Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, to silence Rep. Elijah Cummings, the senior Democrat on the committee, by refusing to allow him to speak and then cutting off his microphone represents an abuse of power and a distortion of a fair investigatory process. As Mr. Cummings said later on MSNBC, ‘The minority should have the opportunity to express our views and ask our questions.’

I am writing you to encourage you to condemn Mr. Issa’s attempts to censor other members of his committee to ensure that a fair process of investigation is being carried out.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: The Office of Congressman Darrell Issa via Wikimedia Commons

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