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Issa reconsiders the value of personal emails

Associated Press

In his capacity as chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) requests and/or subpoenas official correspondence from Obama administration officials all the time. But lately, Issa has taken an interest in something else: officials' personal messages on non-work email accounts.

The House Oversight Committee is demanding that the Internal Revenue Service official at the center of the Tea Party targeting probe turn over any emails from her personal account she might have used to conduct official business.

In a letter sent Tuesday, Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said the ongoing investigation indicated that Lois Lerner sent some official documents to her personal email address, which "raises concerns" about whether the committee can fully understand her role in the improper targeting from official emails alone.

Earlier this month, Issa did the same thing with Victoria Nuland, the State Department's spokesperson last fall, as part of his Benghazi crusade. In this case, Issa specifically asked for emails "sent or received using a non-governmental account."

Whether you consider these requests legitimate or not probably depends on whether you take the underlying pseudo-scandals seriously. But a Democratic source brought an interesting angle to my attention yesterday: care to guess who was outraged by Democratic requests for officials' personal emails during the Bush/Cheney years?

If you said Darrell Issa, give yourself a prize.

* In February 2008, Issa told Democrats on the Oversight Committee, "You have no mandate to go peeping tom into every piece of correspondence that people say is private in order to determine whether it might be public."

* Issa also proclaimed, "Mr. Chairman, I have to tell you, I have little doubt that if we asked for the staff members of this committee on both sides of the aisle to provide to us all of their outside information that we would in fact learn a great deal. Mr. Chairman, we don't have that right within this committee, and we should not try to create it."

* Issa went on to argue, "Well, if the chairman thinks that he should have Karl Rove's every thinking, including correspondence with a wife or a girlfriend or an old buddy, because it was done at the RNC and not official work -- sort of this voyeur, peeping tom that you're entitled to everything."

I wonder what changed the chairman's mind? It's hard to even imagine.