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Darrell Issa
Chairman of the House Oversight Committee
In office
January 3, 2011 – January 3, 2015
Preceded byEdolphus Towns
Succeeded byJason Chaffetz
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 49th district

Incumbent

Assumed office
January 3, 2003
Preceded bySusan Davis
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 48th district
In office
January 3, 2001 – January 3, 2003
Preceded byRon Packard
Succeeded byChristopher Cox
Personal details
BornDarrell Edward Issa
(1953-11-01) November 1, 1953 (age 64)
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Kathy Stanton
ChildrenWilliam
Alma materKent State University at Stark(AA)
Siena Heights University(BA)
Net worth$436,500,015 (est. 2014)[1]
Signature
WebsiteHouse website
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branchUnited States Army
Years of service1970–1972
1976–1980
RankCaptain
[2][3]

Darrell Edward Issa (; born November 1, 1953) is the RepublicanU.S. Representative for California's 49th congressional district, serving in Congress since 2001. His district presently covers the northern coastal areas of San Diego County, including cities such as Oceanside, Vista, Carlsbad, and Encinitas, as well as a small portion of southern Orange County.[4] From January 2011 to January 2015, he served as Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Issa served as CEO of Directed Electronics, which he co-founded in 1982. It is currently one of the largest makers of automobile aftermarket security and convenience products in the United States. Issa has been named numerous times as the wealthiest currently serving member of Congress.[5][6][7]

On January 10, 2018, Issa announced that he would not seek reelection for his current seat in 2018.[8] However, it was later reported that Issa was considering running for the neighboring 50th District, currently held by embattled Representative Duncan D. Hunter.[9]

Early life, education, and military service

Issa, the second of six children, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Martha (née Bielfelt) and William Issa, who sold trucks and ground valves.[10][11] His father was a Lebanese American of the Maronite Catholic faith[citation needed][12] and his mother is of German and Bohemian (Czech) descent.[13][14] In 2006, he was one of four Arab-American members of Congress.[15]

The family moved to the predominantly Jewish suburb of Cleveland Heights in the later years of his childhood. Many of his friends were Jewish, and Issa reportedly worked for a rabbi at one point. He became very familiar with Jewish culture.[16]

In 1970, on his 17th birthday, Issa dropped out of high school and enlisted for three years in the Army.[16][17] He became an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technician assigned to the 145th Ordnance Detachment.[18] Trained to defuse bombs, Issa stated that his unit provided security for President Richard Nixon, sweeping stadiums for bombs prior to games in the 1971 World Series.[19] A May 1998 investigation by Lance Williams of the San Francisco Examiner found that Nixon had not attended any of 1971 World Series games, but that Issa's unit did perform security sweeps during the series. After the series, Issa was transferred to a supply depot, a result of receiving poor ratings.[16]

Issa received a hardship discharge from the Army in 1972 after his father suffered a heart attack, and earned a General Educational Development (GED) certificate.[16]

Twice that year, he was arrested. In the first incident, he was indicted by a grand jury for an alleged theft of a Maserati, but prosecutors dropped the charge.[20] In the second incident, he was stopped for driving the wrong way on a one-way street, and a police officer noticed a firearm in his glove compartment; Issa was charged with carrying a concealed weapon. He pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of an unregistered firearm, and was sentenced to six months' probation and a small fine.[20] Issa has said he believes the record has since been expunged.[16]

Issa attended Siena Heights University, a small Roman Catholic college in Adrian, Michigan, followed by Kent State University at Stark, where he enrolled in the Reserve Officer Training Corps and was commissioned as a second lieutenant.[16] He served in the Army Reserve from 1976 to 1980 and was promoted to the rank of captain.[21]

From September 9–26, 1980, Issa served on active duty while training with the 1/77th Armor Battalion as an Assistant S-1. His evaluation report, by then-Lt. Col.Wesley Clark, stated "This officer's performance far exceeded that of any other reserve officer who has worked in the battalion" and "Promote ahead of contemporaries. Unlimited potential."[16][22][23]

Shortly before his discharge from the Army in 1980, Issa was again indicted for grand theft auto. The prosecution dropped the case in August 1980. In 1981, Issa was in a car crash. The other motorist sued Issa for $20,000; they eventually settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.[16]

Business career

Quantum/Steal Stopper

After leaving the military, Issa and his second wife, Kathy Stanton, moved back to the Cleveland area. According to Issa, he and his wife pooled their savings, sold their cars (a 1976 Mercedes and a 1967 VW Beetle) as well as a BMW motorcycle, and borrowed $50,000 from family members to invest in Quantum Enterprises, an electronics manufacturer run by a friend from Cleveland Heights that assembled bug zappers, CB radio parts, and other consumer products for other companies. One of those clients, car alarm manufacturer Steal Stopper, would become the path to Issa's fortune. It was struggling badly, and he took control of it by foreclosing a $60,000 loan he had made to it when its founder, Joey Adkins, missed a payment. Adkins remained as an employee.[16]

Issa soon turned Steal Stopper around, to the point that it was supplying Ford with thousands of car alarms and negotiating a similar deal with Toyota. But early in the morning of September 7, 1982, the offices and factory of Quantum and Steal Stopper in the Cleveland suburb of Maple Heights caught fire. The fire took three hours to put out. The buildings and almost all the inventory within were destroyed. An investigation of the cause of the fire noted "suspicious burn patterns" with fires starting in two places aided by an accelerant such as gasoline.[16]

Adkins said Issa appeared to prepare for a fire by increasing the fire insurance policy by 462% three weeks previously, and by removing computer equipment holding accounting and customer information. St. Paul Insurance, suspicious of arson and insurance fraud, initially paid only $25,000, according to Issa.[16][24]

Directed Electronics

Main article: Directed Electronics

Steal Stopper soon regained its previous prosperity. As car theft rose in the United States during the 1980s, so did the demand for security devices. Rolls Royce, BMW, and General Motors joined Ford and Toyota as customers. In 1985, Issa sold the company to a California-based maker of home alarms, and moved to the San Diego suburb of Vista, where he has lived ever since, to work for the company. Shortly afterward he left to start Directed Electronics, Inc. (DEI).[16]

Issa was able to use his knowledge of the weaknesses in automotive security that car thieves preyed on to develop effective theft deterrents. Using sensors that, when armed, would detect motion and pressure on the body of the car, his device would create loud noise to draw attention to a would-be car thief, such as the car's horn honking or a speaker playing a recording with Issa's voice saying: "Protected by Viper. Stand back" and "Please step away from the car", warnings for DEI's signature product, the Viper car alarm.[25] Sales grew from a million dollars in the company's first year to $14 million by 1989.[16]

Early political career

Activism

With his involvement in consumer-electronicstrade organizations, Issa became politically active. He went to Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress and became one of California's largest individual campaign contributors to Republicancandidates. In 1996 he was chairman of the successful campaign to pass California Proposition 209, a ballot initiative which prohibited public institutions in California from considering race, sex, or ethnicity in the areas of public employment, public contracting, or public education. He was instrumental in persuading the national Republican Party to hold its 1996 convention in San Diego.[3][16]

1998 U.S. Senate election

See also: United States Senate election in California, 1998

Issa's first campaign for elected office was in 1998, when he sought the Republican nomination for United States Senate to run against incumbent DemocratBarbara Boxer. He spent $10 million of his own money in his campaign, running against California State TreasurerMatt Fong, Congressman Frank Riggs, and three others. Fong's campaign raised $3 million from contributions and complained that Issa's wealth made for an uneven playing field (Issa had only $400,000 in contributions from others). An Issa spokesman countered that the money was needed to compensate for Fong's statewide name recognition.[26] Issa lost the primary election to Fong, 45% to 40%; Riggs got 10% of the vote. A San Francisco exit poll suggested large numbers of Asian-Americans, who typically vote in the Democratic Party primary, had crossed party lines to strategically vote for Fong.[27]

U.S. House of Representatives

Elections

2000

See also: United States House of Representatives elections in California, 2000 § District 48

Nine-term incumbent Republican U.S. Congressman Ron Packard decided not to run for re-election in 2000, in California's 48th congressional district. Issa ran for Packard's seat, capitalizing on his name recognition from the 1998 Senate race. The district was primarily based in San Diego County, but had small portions in Riverside and Orange counties. Issa finished first in the all-party primary with 35% of the vote, winning a plurality in all three counties; Republican State SenatorBill Morrow was second, with 24% of the votes.[28][29] Issa won the November general election, defeating Democratic nominee Peter Kouvelis 61%–28%.[30][31]

2002

See also: United States House of Representatives elections in California, 2002 § District 49

After redistricting, Issa's district was renumbered as the 49th District, and didn't include any of Orange County. Like its predecessor, the district was heavily Republican; it had a Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) of R+10. No Democrat filed against Issa that year. He won re-election to a second term by defeating Libertarian nominee Karl Dietrich, 77%–22%.[32]

2004

See also: United States House of Representatives elections in California, 2004 § District 49

A write-in candidate from the 2002 election, Mike Byron, went on to become the Democratic challenger in 2004.[33] Issa won re-election to a third term, defeating Byron 63%–35%.[34]

2006

See also: United States House of Representatives elections in California, 2006 § District 49

In November 2006, Issa won re-election to a fourth term, defeating Democratic nominee Jeeni Criscenzo, 63%–33%.[35]

2008

See also: United States House of Representatives elections in California, 2008 § District 49

In 2008, Issa won re-election to a fifth term, defeating Democratic nominee Robert Hamilton, 58%–37%. The 21-point margin of victory was the second smallest in Issa's career. He carried San Diego with 60% of the vote and Riverside with 57% of the vote.[36]

2010

See also: United States House of Representatives elections in California, 2010 § District 49

In 2010, Issa won re-election to a sixth term, defeating Democratic nominee Howard Katz 63%–31%.[37]

2012

See also: United States House of Representatives elections in California, 2012 § District 49

Issa's district was significantly redrawn after the 2010 census. It lost its share of Riverside County, along with most of its share of inland San Diego County. These were replaced with a small portion of southern Orange County. The district was much more competitive on paper than its predecessor. The old 49th had a PVI of R+10, while the new 49th has a PVI of R+4.[citation needed]

Issa won re-election to a seventh term, defeating the Democratic nominee, Jerry Tetalman, 58%–42%. The sixteen-point margin of victory was the smallest in Issa's political career. Issa carried the San Diego portion of his district with just 55% of the vote, while he dominated the Orange County part with 66% of the vote.[38][39]

2014

See also: United States House of Representatives elections in California, 2014 § District 49

The open primary in June 2014 was contested by Issa and two Democrats: Dave Peiser and Noboru Isaga. The top two vote getters, Issa (62%) and Peiser (28%), advanced to the general election.[40][41] In the November election Issa was elected to an eighth term, 60% to 40%.[42][43]

2016

See also: United States House of Representatives elections in California, 2016 § District 49

In the open primary in June 2016, Issa received 51% of the vote to 46% for Democrat Doug Applegate, a retired Marine Colonel.[44] Issa and Applegate both advanced to the general election in November.[45] In October, Applegate and Issa were seen by the Cook Political Report as equally likely to win the election.

Issa sent out a campaign mailer which featured a photograph of President Barack Obama signing a law. The mailer stated that Issa was "very pleased" that Obama signed the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act which Issa had co-sponsored. Obama responded to the mailer by saying that Issa's "primary contribution to the US Congress has been to obstruct and to waste taxpayer dollars on trumped up investigations that have led nowhere." Obama said that, because of fading support for Donald Trump, Issa was now promoting his cooperation with the president despite Issa's previous stance that Obama was corrupt.[46]

Issa responded by saying, "I've worked with the administration on good legislation where it was possible, called out wrongdoing wherever I saw it and will continue to do so."[47]

As of November 23, 2016, Issa held a 3,234-vote lead with approximately 6,000 ballots remaining uncounted. Issa declared victory in the race, while Applegate had not yet conceded.[48] The Associated Press finally declared Issa the winner on November 28, citing a small but convincing lead with only a few votes left to count.[49]

2018

See also: United States House of Representatives elections in California, 2018 § District 49

Multiple Democrats, including 2016 candidate Doug Applegate and environmental attorney Mike Levin, launched campaigns for California's 49th district.[50] Given the close margin of victory over Applegate in 2016, the election has been expected to be highly competitive.[51] On January 10, 2018, Issa announced that he would not run for re-election.[8]

Tenure

Oversight committee

After the 2008 elections, Issa was appointed ranking member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform ahead of some more senior colleagues. Chairman Edolphus Towns clashed with Issa when Issa sought to investigate Countrywide Financial, which had granted DemocraticU.S. SenatorsChris Dodd and Kent Conrad loans with especially favorable terms. Republicans had filmed Democrats leaving the room after a canceled hearing on Countrywide; Towns then changed the locks to bar Republicans from the room. They clashed again when Issa sought a special prosecutor to consider whether the Obama administration had unlawfully offered a federal job to Joe Sestak as an inducement to refrain from running against Arlen Specter for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania. Towns and Issa did cooperate on some matters, improving transparency of some federal agency reports, and a Government Accountability Office examination of the Federal Reserve.[citation needed]

Following the 2010 elections, Issa became chairman. He became a vocal advocate for investigations into the Obama administration, including the Troubled Assets Relief Program, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, corruption in Afghanistan, WikiLeaks, and the Food and Drug Administration, among other issues.[52] In 2010 he told the press that he wanted the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to hold investigative hearings "seven hearings a week, times 40 weeks."[53]

In February 2011, the Watchdog Institute, a nonprofit investigative reporting center based at San Diego State University, published an investigation alleging that as leader of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, he built a team which included staff members with close connections to industries that could benefit from his investigations.[54]

On February 16, 2012, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing on the Department of Health and Human Services's regulation requiring insurance plans to cover birth control, which Issa believes is a violation of the religious freedom of people who oppose the use of birth control. Sandra Fluke was submitted as a witness by Democratic members, but Issa did not permit her to testify, saying her name was submitted too late,[55] a claim which was challenged by Democrats.[56]

Legislation

In 2013 Issa introduced the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2013 (H.R. 2061; 113th Congress).[57] H.R. 2061 aimed to make information on federal expenditures more easily available, accessible, and transparent.[58] The bill was signed into law by Obama on May 9, 2014.[59]

Issa introduced the FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act of 2014 (H.R. 1211; 113th Congress) on March 15, 2013. It was a proposed bill that would have amended the Freedom of Information Act in order to make it easier and faster to request and receive information.[60][61] The bill would have required the Office of Management and Budget to create a single FOIA website for people to use to make FOIA requests and check on the status of their request. The bill would also have created a Chief FOIA Officers Council charged with reviewing compliance and recommending improvements.[60] It would also have required the federal agency to release the information it disclosed to the person who requested it publicly afterwards.[61]

Issa argued in favor of the bill because it "shifts the burden of proof from the public requestor seeking information about a government agency...to the government being open and transparent unless it has a good reason to withhold."[62] The bill passed unanimously in the United States House of Representatives on February 25, 2014.[63] However, a nearly identical senate bill failed when it was tabled by House Speaker John Boehner.[64]

Issa introduced the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (H.R. 1232; 113th Congress) on March 18, 2013. It is a proposed bill that would make changes and reforms to the current framework that manages how the federal government buys new technology.[65] One of the requirements would be that the government develop a streamlined plan for its acquisitions.[66] The bill would increase the power of existing Chief Information Officers (CIO) within federal agencies so that they could be more effective.[67]

Each agency would also be reduced to having only one CIO in the agency, who is then responsible for the success and failure of all IT projects in that agency.[68] The bill would also require the federal government to make use of private sector best practices.[67] The bill was intended to reduce IT procurement related waste.[69] It passed the House in a voice vote on February 25, 2014.[66] In December 2014 it was passed as a section of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015.[70]

On May 7, 2014, Issa introduced a simple resolution in the House that passed without objection Recommending that the House of Representatives find Lois G. Lerner, former Director, Exempt Organizations, Internal Revenue Service, in contempt of Congress for refusal to comply with a subpoena duly issued by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The resolution holds Lois Lerner, one of the central Internal Revenue Service officials involved in the 2013 IRS scandal, in contempt of Congress for her refusal to testify about the scandal before Issa's committee in response to a subpoena.[71][72]

Bombing plot

In 2001, Issa's district office in San Clemente was targeted in an aborted bombing plot. Jewish Defense League leader Irving Rubin was arrested along with Earl Krugel in connection with the plot, which reportedly had focused on other targets before shifting to Issa's office.[13][73] Issa speculated that the cause of the incident may have been a column written by political commentator Debbie Schlussel in which she charged that Issa sympathized with Hezbollah despite its being listed by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization, charges he denied.[13][74][75]

Ethics complaint and award

In September 2011, a liberal advocacy and lobbying group, American Family Voices, filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics against Issa, alleging he had repeatedly used his public office for personal financial gain.[how?] Issa's office rejected the allegations.[76]

The year before that the Project on Government Oversight, a government watchdog group, awarded Issa with its Good Government Award for his contributions to government oversight and transparency. These included publicizing documents produced by the New York Federal Reserve Bank in response to a congressional subpoena, publicly exposing the NYFR's secret "back-door bailout" of AIG's counterparties, and cofounding a Transparency Caucus dedicated to "promoting a more open and accountable government through education, legislation, and oversight."[77][78]

Committee assignments

Political positions

As of 1 March 2017, Issa has voted with his party in 98.1% of votes so far in the current session of Congress and voted in line with President Trump's position in 100% of the votes.[80][81] Issa voted with the majority of House Republicans 95% of the time during the 111th Congress.[82]

9/11 first responders

In April 2008, the Daily News reported that Issa questioned federal expenditures pertaining to disability-compensation claims from 9/11 first responders. He was criticized for making comments that the federal government "'just threw' buckets of cash at New York for an attack 'that had no dirty bomb in it, it had no chemical munitions in it'" and asking "why the firefighters who went there and everybody in the city of New York needs to come to the federal government for the dollars versus this being primarily a state consideration."[83] In September 2009, Issa's office released a statement indicating that his comments had been misrepresented and that the questions he asked concerned the then still unpassed bill H.R. 3543, which, according to that statement "would give U.S. taxpayer dollars to those who did not suffer physical injury and did not work at or around Ground Zero."[84][85]

2003 gubernatorial recall election

Issa came to national prominence in 2003 when he contributed more than $1.6 million to help fund a signature-gathering drive for the petition to recall California Governor Gray Davis. At the time he made the contribution, it was widely believed that Issa intended to place himself on the ballot to replace Davis. However, following the entrance of fellow Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger into the race, two days before the filing deadline, Issa announced that he would not run.[86] Issa later said his mission had been accomplished with Davis' recall and that he wanted to continue to represent his district in Congress and work towards Middle East peace.[20] At one point in the campaign he suggested people [clarification needed] should vote against recalling Davis unless one of the two leading Republican contenders dropped out, concerned that Schwarzenegger and fellow Republican Tom McClintock would split votes, resulting in Democratic Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante being elected to succeed Davis.[87] Issa endorsed Schwarzenegger in the election.

Abortion

Issa opposes abortion.[88]

Bribes

In February 2017, he voted in favor of repealing a rule that required energy companies to disclose payments to foreign governments.[80]

Cannabis

Issa has a "D" rating from NORML based on his cannabis-related voting record.[89]

Donald Trump

Issa attracted attention for his close relationship with and strong support for Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election.[90][91][92] Issa endorsed Trump in March 2016[93] and did not rescind his endorsement after the Donald Trump and Billy Bush recording surfaced.[94]

In early February 2017, Issa expressed his support for a special prosecutor to look into President Donald Trump's ties to Russia. On 27 February, he walked back his previous comments.[95] Issa supported Trump's dismissal of FBI Director James Comey, saying "Comey had lost my confidence long ago."[96]

As of May 2017, Issa has voted in line with Trump's positions 100 percent of the time.[97]

Education

He has been critical of No Child Left Behind, supporting a modification that would, in his words, "give states the freedom to adopt best practices for their students by returning flexibility and control to the educators and parents who are the real experts on education".[98]

Environment

Issa rejects the scientific consensus on climate change and has stated there is no scientific consensus on climate[99] and that scientists have falsified data.[100]

Before the 2010 election, Issa pledged that, if elected, he would probe "Climategate", which refers to the hacked Climatic Research Unit e-mails that climate change denialists falsely asserted showed scientific misconduct and fraud by climate scientists.[101] Issa called President Obama's unwillingness to investigate Climategate "unconscionable" and an abdication of responsibility.[102]

In 2009, he voted against the American Clean Energy and Security Act.[103] He opposes federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.[88] In February 2017, he voted to repeal a rule that required coal companies to restore streams and mined areas to their pre-development conditions.[80]

The League of Conservation Voters has condemned Issa's actions related to the environment, stating, "As chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Congressman Issa is not only denying climate change, but also actively impeding federal action, pledging to hold hearings on the ‘Politicization of Science,’ and calling for greater oversight of the EPA’s regulations of greenhouse gases."[104]

Foreign and defense policy

In 2001, Issa voted for the authorization of the PATRIOT Act and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security.[105][not in citation given] He voted for the reauthorization of the Patriot Act in 2005 after successfully amending it to require judicial notification, reporting requirements and facts justifying the use of roving survelliance at new facilities or places.[106]

Issa is one of several Lebanese-Americans in Congress.[107] He has had a significant role in U.S. peace initiatives in the Middle East. He traveled to Lebanon and Syria in an effort to negotiate the end of the Syrian occupation of Lebanon. In 2003, he appeared at a Washington rally by Iranian groups protesting against the Islamic government in Iran.[108]

In March 2015, Issa supported the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen, saying: "We must make it clear that we will support our allies and punish our enemies through steadfast resolve and decisive action."[109]

Healthcare

He favors repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and voted in support of the budget resolution to repeal Obamacare in January 2017.[88][80]

On May 4, 2017, Issa voted in favor of repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and passing the American Health Care Act.[110][111] Issa made the tie-breaking vote to pass the AHCA.[112][113]

Healthcare vote reactions

The organization San Diego Indivisible protests outside Issa's office weekly.[114]

After Darrell Issa voted to pass the AHCA, about 800 people from the organization protested, decrying that a significant portion of Issa's voters use the ACA.[114] The group was also unhappy about a picture taken where Issa stood "front and center" for a photo op held in tribute to the success of the Republicans in passing the AHCA.[112]

Instead of coming back to California to meet the protesters, Issa flew to an event in Florida to raise money, though he says he will meet with them at a later date.[112][114]

The following Friday, over 100 people protested his desire to defund Planned Parenthood.[114]

An organization called Save My Care spent $500,000 to release a series of attack ads against 24 House members who voted for the AHCA, including one about Issa.[115][116]

LGBT issues

Issa opposes same-sex marriage.[88] He voted against an amendment, which ultimately failed narrowly, that stated that religious corporations, associations and institutions that receive federal contracts can't be discriminated against on the basis of religion. Democrats warn that such a provision could potentially allow discrimination against the LGBT community in the name of religious freedom.[117]

Immigration

He has opposed attempts to ease restrictions on illegal immigration such as the "Blue Card" system, arguing that it provides amnesty for illegal immigrants.[118]

Online piracy

Issa is opposed to the Stop Online Piracy Act based on the amount of discretion the Department of Justice would have under the legislation as it is currently drafted. He plans to propose amendments that would reduce that discretion.[119] He subsequently went on to cosponsor the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act.[120][not in citation given]

Russian hacking of 2016 election

Issa has stated that he believes Russia meddled with the 2016 election, but that he supports Trump's firing of FBI Director Comey (who was leading the investigation into the 2016 election meddling), and he believes the US should be focusing on other issues.[121]

Science

Issa supports embryonic stem cell research and has voted to allow it.[122]

He co-sponsored both the 2008 and 2009 versions of the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act and sponsored the Research Works Act (H.R. 3699) introduced in 2011, all of which aim at a reversal of the NIH's Public Access Policy,[123] which mandatesopen access to NIH-funded research.[124]

Issa has periodically tried to de-fund grants offered by the National Institutes of Health.[125] He alleged that the NIH was spending $5 million "on foreign alcoholics and prostitutes."[125] The grants in question were on research on HIV/AIDS prevention.[125]

Tax reform

Issa voted no on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. He was one of two California Republicans to vote against the bill, alongside Dana Rohrabacher.[126] Issa expressed concern that "many" of his constituents would face increased taxes under the proposal and that “Californians have entrusted me to fight for them. I will not make the incredible tax burden they already endure even worse.”[127]

Vaccine controversy

Issa has chaired House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearings on vaccines and their unsubstantiated relationship with autism.[128][129]

Whistleblowers

Issa supported the All Circuit Review Extension Act (H.R. 4197; 113th Congress), a bill that would extend for three years the authority for federal employees who appeal a judgment of the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) to file their appeal at any federal court, instead of only the U.S. Court of Appeals.[130][131] Issa argued that "whistleblowers are a critical asset for congressional oversight" and that extending the pilot program would give Congress "more time to gauge the impact of an 'all circuit' review."[131]

See also

References

  1. ^"Darrell Issa Net Worth". OpenSecrets.org. Retrieved 8 May 2017. 
  2. ^"Darrell Issa". Federal Directory(fee via Fairfax County Public Library). Bethesda, MD: Carroll Publishing. 2011. Gale Document Number: GALE |K2415002216. Retrieved September 7, 2013.  Biography In Context. (subscription required)
  3. ^ abBarone, Michael; Chuck McCutcheon (2011). The Almanac of American Politics 2012. Washington, D.C.: National Journal Group. pp. 267–69. ISBN 978-0-226-03807-0. 
  4. ^"District 49"(PDF). California Redistricting Commission certified map. Healthy City. August 2011. Retrieved January 5, 2013. 
  5. ^"Wealth of Congress Index". Roll Call. Retrieved 10 February 2016. 
  6. ^Hall, Matthew T. (August 20, 2013). "Issa now wealthiest member of Congress"Archived February 22, 2014, at Archive.is, UTSanDiego.com; accessed November 11, 2016.
  7. ^Gordon, Noah (September 9, 2014). "How Did Members of Congress Get So Wealthy?". The Atlantic. Retrieved September 9, 2014. 
  8. ^ abMarcos, Cristina (January 10, 2018). "Issa retiring from Congress". The Hill. Retrieved 10 January 2018. 
  9. ^http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/368513-exclusive-issa-mulls-running-in-neighboring-district
  10. ^Leduff, Charlie (July 23, 2003). "California Recall Backer Feels Heat". Nytimes.com. Retrieved September 30, 2013. 
  11. ^"Los Angeles Times: The Rock, the Hard Place and the Man in the Middle". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. September 1, 2002. Retrieved September 30, 2013. (Subscription required (help)). 
  12. ^"Darrell Issa - About - Facebook". Retrieved November 12, 2016. 
  13. ^ abc

[Author’s note: I’m playing around with some features in Google Docs, namely the EasyBib Bibliography Creator, Bible Verse, and Docs to WordPress add-ons. Consequently, this post is going to look a bit more like an academic paper than usual. Let me know what you think!]

If you spend any time at all in academia–or with pseudo-academic skeptics–inevitably you will run across a discussion on the “evolution” of the “character” of Satan. The basic formula usually comes down to the claim that Satan in the Old Testament is more like a prosecuting attorney, and only becomes elevated and vilified as the enemy of God in the intertestimental period (the four hundred years separating Malachi and Matthew). The skeptic is quick to jump on this supposed change in characterization as evidence of a major change in the Bible’s narrative, and therefore of its human–rather than Divine–origin.

That pre-supposes, of course, that the being we commonly call Satan isn’t really found in the Old Testament, at least not insofar as being portrayed as the enemy of God and his people.

At first glance, that would seem to indeed be the case. Other than a few references in Numbers 22, Job, 1 Chronicles 21:1, and Zechariah 3, Satan is nary to be seen. Furthermore, in 1 Chronicles, it’s possible that the verse simply means, “Then an adversary”–that is, a human foe–”stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel” in preparation for a normal, physical war, thus moving David to want to number his own forces. Likewise, Numbers 22:22 describes the angel of Hashem as being “an adversary” to Balaam–as in 1 Chronicles, the Hebrew word satan is a description rather than a name. That leaves only the Job and Zechariah references, and those are pretty darn vague about whether Satan is the bad guy or not.

But as it turns out, the Adversary (HaSatan) is quite active in the Hebrew Scriptures; he’s just going under a different name: Baal.

The first mentions of Baal are found in the names of people and places (Gen. 36:38-39; Exo. 14:2, 9), but his first mention as a god is in Numbers 22:41, in the story of Balaam. (Interestingly, this chapter also contains the first instance of the word satan in Scripture; perhaps this is a remez, or hint, to us.) Balaam is an interesting figure, as the text clearly identifies him as a prophet who communes with Hashem (vv. 8-9). Though later rabbinic material identifies him instead as a sorcerer, the New Testament presents him as the archetypical figure of one who knew the truth but fell away for material gain (2Pt. 2:15, Jude 11, Rev. 2:14). Even so, when he goes to curse Israel, he specifically does so “from the high places of Baal.” This is best understood in the light of the pagan beliefs of the day, in which each of Israel’s neighbors recognized an original uncreated High God, but worshipped lesser gods alongside him, and often instead of him. To a pagan like Balaam, utilizing the high places of Baal, thought to be the viceroy of El (God), to call upon El would not have seemed unusual.

Balaam’s attempt to curse Israel of course was turned into blessing instead, so he proposed an alternate route of cursing Israel to Balak, his employer: Aware that Hashem had taken Israel to be his peculiar people who would worship him alone among all the “gods,” Balaam suggested that Balak send beautiful women to entice Israel into worshipping Baal instead (Num. 25:1-5, 31:16). The attempt was very nearly successful, with only the zeal of Phinehas turning back God’s resultant wrath (Num. 25:11). However, while Hashem did not destroy Israel for her sin that day, the worship of Baal would continue to be a snare for many centuries to follow. Practically from the moment of Joshua’s death, Israel began turning aside and worshiping Baal and Ashtoreth.

When used as a proper name (ba’al in Hebrew also means, “lord,” “master,” and even “husband”), Baal is usually identified with the Aramaean weather-god Hadad or Adad.[1] Like all the Canaanite gods, he was considered to be a son of El, but because he was believed to bring the winter storms that were so vital to life in that region (unlike Egypt or Mesopotamia, which were watered by mighty rivers) he was the de facto head of the sons of El and the most revered deity in the Canaanite pantheon. Even today, the Arabs use the word ba’al to describe farming done without the aid of irrigation, depending only on rainfall.[2] Since he was associated with the coming of the rains, Baal was considered to be the one who rode on the clouds,[3] again a title tha that the Bible gives in truth to both Hashem (Jdg. 5:4; 2 Sa. 22:12; Job 22:14; Psa. 18:11f, 78:23, 97:2, 104:3; Jer. 10:13; Nah. 1:3; Zec. 10:1) and his Messiah (Dan. 7:13; Mat 24:30, 26:64; Rev. 1:7). The Biblical references to the Baals in the plural (Ba’alim) or to local Baal-figures (e.g., Baal-Peor or Baal of Peor) are not meant as individual gods, but as local cults or idols to the one Baal.

In the Baal Cycle the story is told of how Baal became chief of the Canaanite pantheon and of his striving with his brothers Yam (the Sea) and Mot (Death). After an initial setback, in which Yam temporarily defeats Baal and is consecrated as king of the gods (possibly an echo of the Flood, told in a uniquely Canaanite fashion[4]), Baal defeats Yam with two maces forged by the smith Kothar-wa-Khasis (“Skillful and Wise”). In the Baal steele recovered at Ugarit, on the other hand, Baal is shown holding a mace in one hand and a thunderbolt as a spear in the other, suggesting that his real weapons are thunder and lightning–as apropos for a storm god. However, he is not able to so easily defeat Mot, and is in fact portrayed at being in fear of Death incarnate and eventually slain by him. However, El has a dream in which Baal returns and after a second battle on Mt. Zaphon that draws to a stalemate, it is announced to Mot that El has given kingship to Baal, and Death cannot defeat him again. As a result, Mot comes to fear Baal and reveres him as El’s appointed king.

The story of Baal being devoured for a time by Mot is not simply a symbolic representation of the summer or winter, but seems to hearken back to a time when the land was sterile due to drought, specifically for a period of seven years.[5] This story, mythological and pagan as it is, gives us several key insights into the Ugaritic / Canaanite theology that the Biblical prophets contended with. First, it admits that Baal, though first in the hearts of the people of Canaan, was not the supreme God, but received his kingdom on the earth only at the sufferance of El, a name that is used nearly 250 times in the Bible of the true God, the Eternal Creator. Second, it admits that Baal apart from El was not able to defeat Death. We saw in the previous chapter that all of the ancient pagan religions admitted the existence of a High, Father God above their gods that they nevertheless did not give their greatest devotion to. It establishes a close, though adversarial relationship between Baal and the Sea and Death, which will be shown to be important shortly.

There are numerous passages of Scripture that are written specifically to refute the claims of Baal. For example, Psalm 29 was originally written as a hymn of praise to Baal, but was co-opted by David to praise Hashem instead.[6]

In 1935, H.L. Ginsberg proposed that Psalm 29 was originally a Phoenician hymn which had found its way into the Psalter. In support of his hypothesis, he noted several aspects of the psalm which suggested to him that it had been composed initially in honor of the storm god, Baal; he drew upon the Ugaritic texts to substatiate his hypothesis. . . Today, although debate continues on the details of the hypothesis, almost all scholars agree that Psalm 29’s background is Baal worship, as portrayed in the tablets from Ugarit.[7].

The claim of Baal to be the god of the storm, of thunder of lightning, comes to a head in 1 Kings 17-18, where Elijah, the prophet of Hashem, first demonstrates the true God’s power over the rains which were supposedly the domain of Baal (17:1; cf. Jas. 5:17, Rev. 1:6), and then challenges the prophets of Baal to summon “fire” from heaven: that is to say, lightning (1Ki. 18:24). In every way, Elijah gave up the advantage to the prophets of Baal–and yet it was Hashem who proved himself in fire from heaven, fulfilling David’s’ Psalm that it is Hashem who is revealed in the voice of the thunder.

Baal being a storm god also links him to the Adversary (Satan) in the book of Job, who uses “fire of God . . . from heaven” (lightning; 1:16) and “a great wind” (likely a tornado; v. 19) to destroy Job’s flocks and children. The attacks of the Sabeans in v. 15 and Chaldeans in v. 17 also fit with Baal, a warrior god, and his violent consort Anat. It is quite likely that Job was adapted from an earlier story regarding a contest between El and Baal which was adapted and edited, perhaps during the reign of Solomon, to remove the direct references to Baal and deal with the problem of evil and suffering from a uniquely Israelite perspective.

One of the titles of Baal was Zebul, “the prince.” In 2 Kings 1:6, Elijah the Tishbite mockingly changes this title to Baal-Zebub, “Lord of the Flies,” essentially calling Baal a dung heap that his followers fly to. This title carries over in the New Testament, as we shall see in a moment. He is also known a Baal-Tsaphon for his holy mountain north of Ugarit which is today known as Jebel al-Aqraa, in the far northwestern corner of Syria. The word Tsaphon became the Hebrew word for “north,” as in Isaiah 14:12-14:

12 “How  you are fallen from heaven,
O Day Star (Heylel),  son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground,
you who laid the nations low!

13 You said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far reaches of the north (Heb. Tsaphon);

14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High (Elyon).’ (ESV)

In fulfillment of Heylel’s/Baal’s desire, the Ugaritic writings give the title Aliyan / Elyon to Baal rather than to El, though acknowledging that Baal received his throne and his house from El, and that Baal was created while saying of El, “Indeed our creator is eternal, Indeed ageless is he who formed us.”[8]

Baal actually claimed two sacred mountains: Tsaphon (or Tsaphanu) in northern Syria, and Hermon in northern Israel (Jdg. 3:3, 1Ch. 5:23). The name Hermon comes from the Semitic word charem, which means something devoted to a god, a devotion that may mean destroying it so it can never again be used for common purposes (Lev. 27:28f, Deu. 7:26). Renowned Orientalist and Biblical scholar Edward Lipinski has argued that both Tsaphon/Sapan and Hermon were originally mountains dedicated to the worship of El, but which Baal co-opted:

El was earlier venerated as the patron of navigators on Gebel el-Aqra’, the ancient Mount Sapan [Tsaphon], which became subsequently the mountain of the Storm-god Ba’al. It does not seem, nevertheless, that this mountain was ever conceived as the Mount of divine Assembly. This quality was instead attributed to Mount Hermon, at least from the Old Babylonian period on, so that, in the second half of the IIth millennium and in the Ist millennium B.C., we must deal with at least two Semitic Olympus.[9]

We’ve already looked at the significance of Bashan and Israel’s conquest of it, but to quickly sum it up:

For the ‘Canaanites’ of Ugarit, the Bashan region, or a part of it, clearly represented ‘Hell’, the celestial and infernal abode of their deified dead kings, Olympus and Hades at the same time. It is possible that this localization of the Canaanite Hell is linked to the ancient tradition of the place as the ancestral home of the rpum. The Biblical text also recalls that “all Bashan used to be called the land/earth of the Rephaim” (Deut 3:13 [NEB]), an ambiguous wording that could equally be translated as “the ‘hell’ of the Rephaim”.[10]

Baal had a special relationship with the race known in Scripture as the Rephaim, who dwelt in Bashan: “Mythological fragments not belonging to the Baal Cycle have increased our knowledge of this side of the god. Baal is called with the epithet rpu (Rapi’u), ‘healer,’ (cf. Hebrew rope). Dietrich & Lorenz have shown that Baal is called rpu in his capacity as leader of the rpum, the Rephaim. . . Baal is their lord in the realm of the dead, as shown by the circumlocution zbl b’l ars (‘prince, lord of the underworld).”[11]

It is this title of Baal, Baal-Zebul or “Baal the Prince,” which links him to the NT Satan:

22 Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. 23 And all the people were amazed, and said,  “Can this be the Son of David?” 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said,  “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.”

25 Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 26 And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul,  by whom do  your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 28 But if it is  by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then  the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or  how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. (Matthew 12:22-29, ESV)

Yeshua outright calls Satan by his ancient name and title, Baal-Zebul, in this passage. The importance of this has generally been overlooked due to the slight variant spelling (which actually was done to avoid saying Baal’s name: cf. Deuteronomy 12:3 and Hosea 2:17). He also agrees with the Pharisees that Baal is the prince of the demons, aka the Rephaim or Rapum, exactly as described in the Ugaritic texts. This also fits well with the description of the Devil as being “the one who has the power of death” (Heb. 2:14) and “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in  the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2).

Baal was not, as it turns out, a uniquely Canaanite god.

Bel (‘lord’) came to be used as a designation for Marduk [the patron deity of the city of Babylon; cf. Dan. 4:8] . . . During the period of the Middle Kingdom, if not earlier, the cult was adopted by the Egyptians, along with the cult of other Canaanite gods (S. Morenz, Agyptische Religion [RdM 8; Stuttgart 1977] 250-255). In the wake of the Phoenician colonization it eventually spread all over the Mediterranean region.[12]

A text discovered in Qal’at Gandal and dating from 292 A.D. is dedicated by a priest to Zeus Megistos . . . who is likely to be the Ba’al Hermon of the Bible. Zeus is in fact the Greek equivalent of Ba’al, the Canaanite storm-god. . . The Greeks equated Ba’al with Zeus from at least the beginning of the fifth century B.C., since Herodotus, The Histories, I, 181 and III, 158, explicitly identifies Zeus with the Babylonian Belos, i.e., Marduk. Now, this equation implies a previous identification of Zeus with the Phoenician Ba’al, since the nature of Marduk would not justify by itself an equation with the Greek storm-god.[13]

The Bible likewise identifies Baal/Satan with Zeus. The designation of Satan as “the prince of the power of the air” or “the atmospheric region”[14] would have fit well with Zeus in the minds of Paul’s audience, who knew Zeus as “the Gatherer of Clouds,” “He Who Thunders High Up,” “He Who Enjoys Lightning,” and “the Master of the Tempest.” “Zeus rains” was likewise a common Greek expression.[15] All of these appellations would have been quite comfortable to followers of Baal.

Zeus is also identified as Satan in Revelation 2:13: “I know where you dwell,  where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not  deny my faith even in the days of Antipas  my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.” “Satan’s throne” in Pergamos refers to an altar-temple to Zeus which was shaped like a throne, which was discovered by the German engineer Carl Human in 1878.  (A scale model of this altar was built at the Pergamum museum in Berlin, Germany in 1930.)  On a spiritual level it was also “a reference to the cult of emperor worship, because Pergamos was a center where this form of loyalty was pledged to the emperor of the Roman Empire.”[16] The emperors, of course, claimed to be the gods incarnate, whether Augustus as Zeus or Nero as Apollo.[17]

Zeus is also associated with the “serpent of old” in the Bible (Rev. 12:9, Gen. 3). “The Diasia, ‘the greatest Athenian festival of Zeus’ (Thucydides 1,126,6) . . . took place in honor of Zeus Meilichios who had the form of a huge snake.”[18] The Hebrew word for serpent is nachash, which originally had the meaning (as reflected in the Akkadian nachsu) of “to shine” or “the Shining One.” This meaning of the word is preserved in the Hebrew term for bronze, n’choshet, a shining metal which can be easily heated to the point of glowing. This leads to the wordplay in Numbers 21:9, “Moses made a bronze serpent (nachash n’choshet),” which Hezekiah later called Nechushtan, a “piece of bronze” (2Ki. 18:4). The name Zeus comes from an older Indo-European word (Diw) which “refers specifically to the bright daytime sky, as it is derived from the root meaning ‘to shine.’”[19] Thus Zeus was both the “serpent” and the “shining one” who tempted Mankind in the Garden of Eden.

Most kids learn that Zeus had two brothers: Poseidon, who took dominion over the sea; and Hades, who took dominion over the realm of the dead. Zeus / Poseidon / Hades perfectly parallels the Canaanite triad of Baal / Yam / Mot. The same relationship is surprisingly found in the Bible (Rev. 12-13) as well, with Satan the Dragon, “the serpent of old,” finally being cast down from heaven before being joined with two beasts: one from the sea, a picture of Yam / Poseidon; and one “coming up out of the earth” (Rev. 13:11) as if from its underworld, just like Mot / Hades.

Finally, let us consider the traditional Christian view of Satan: As generally taught, Satan was the greatest and most beautiful of God’s creations, and served as the Eternal Creator’s viceroy until he became proud, and fell (cf. Ezk. 28:11-19, Isa. 14:12-15). This fits in well with the understanding that Satan is simply a later name for Baal that came into employ as the Jewish prophets and teachers destroyed Baal-worship. In Ugaritic myth (reflecting northern Canaanite beliefs to about the period of the Judges), Baal was the viceroy of El and derived his kingship from El. However, by the time that the Greek city-states had reached their heights, the myth had turned far more violent, with Zeus overthrowing his father Cronus (equivalent to the Roman Saturn and the Canaanite El) and seizing the throne in his place.

Of course, the real El was not overthrown and still sits upon the throne of the universe, but the mythology of the Greeks aptly reflects the Adversary’s desires and fantasies. Ultimately, it will not be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who will be cast down into Tartarus (aka the Abyss), but the being calling himself Baal (Master) and Zeus (the Shining Lord of the Sky).

Shalom

Bibliography

“The American Heritage Dictionary Entry: Zeus.” American Heritage Dictionary Entry: Zeus. Web. 5 Jul. 2015. https://ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=zeus

Dahood, Mitchell J. The Anchor Bible. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1968. Print.

Editors El In The Ugaritic Texts. “El’s Abode.” El in the Ugaritic texts (1955): 61–81. Web. http://www.theology.edu/ugarit.htm

Finegan, Jack. Myth & Mystery: an Introduction to the Pagan Religions of the Biblical World. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989. Print.

Grimm, Carl Ludwig Wilibald, Christian Gottlob Wilke, and Maurice A. Robinson. The New Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Being Grimm’s Wilke’s Clavis Novi Testamenti. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1981. Print.

Oldenburg, Ulf. The Conflict between El and Baʼal in Canaanite Religion. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1969. Print.

“The Roman Cult Of Emperor Worship.” Reading Acts. N.p., Feb. 2010. Web. 5 Jul. 2015. http://readingacts.com/2010/04/02/the-roman-cult-of-emperor-worship/

Toorn, K. van der., Bob Becking, and Pieter Willem van der. Horst. Dictionary Of Deities and Demons in the Bible DDD. Leiden: Brill, 1999. Print.

“Ugarit.” Ugarit. Web. 5 Jul. 2015. http://www.theology.edu/ugarit.htm

Wyatt, N. The Mythic Mind: Essays on Cosmology and Religion in Ugaritic and Old Testament Literature. London: Equinox Pub., 2005. Print.

Youngblood, Ronald F., F. F. Bruce, and R. K. Harrison. Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville: T. Nelson, 1995. Print.


[1] This is the general consensus, though there is some scholarly debate on this identification. See The Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, “Baal,” pp. 171ff.

[3] DDD, “Rider Upon the Clouds,” p. 704, cf. Isa. 14:14

[5] Oldenburg, p. 37; cf. Gen. 41

[6] Dahood, Anchor Bible: Psalms 1-50

[10] DDD, “Bashan,” p. 162

[16] Nelson’s, “Pergamos”

[17] “The Roman Cult,” Reading Acts

[19] American Heritage Dictionary, “Zeus”

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