Issa Fires Spokesman After Email Controversy

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March 1, 2011 8:28 am
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Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has fired his spokesperson, Kurt Bardella, after Politico raised concerns that Bardella had shared emails from other journalists with The New York Times‘ Mark Leibovich.“While our review of allegations raised by Politico is not yet complete, it has become clear that the committee’s Deputy Communications Director Kurt Bardella did share reporter e-mail correspondence with New York Times journalist Mark Leibovich for a book project,” Issa said in the statement. “Though limited, these actions were highly inappropriate, a basic breach of trust with the reporters it was his job to assist, and inconsistent with established communications office policies. As a consequence, his employment has been terminated.”

Politico Editor-in-Chief John F. Harris first raised the issue in a letter sent to Issa on Sunday, asking the Congressman to investigate whether e-mails or phone calls from journalists were shared with other journalists.

“The practice of sharing reporter e-mails with another journalist on a clandestine basis would be egregiously unprofessional under any circumstances,” Harris wrote

On Monday, Politico reported that Issa had opened up an investigation to determine whether Bardella had improperly shared emails with Leibovich.

Issa’s statment today ends by saying he intends to “finish our review and rebuild any broken trust with the journalists who cover the important work of our committee.”

In 2009, Politico put Bardella on their list of “50 Politicos To Watch.”

Read the full statement:

“While our review of allegations raised by Politico is not yet complete, it has become clear that the committee’s Deputy Communications Director Kurt Bardella did share reporter e-mail correspondence with New York Times journalist Mark Leibovich for a book project. Though limited, these actions were highly inappropriate, a basic breach of trust with the reporters it was his job to assist, and inconsistent with established communications office policies. As a consequence, his employment has been terminated.

“After hearing Kurt’s account, speaking with Mark Leibovich, and an initial review of e-mail correspondence there is no evidence to support speculation that internal committee or congressional documents or conversations were inappropriately shared, that Mark Leibovich ever inappropriately heard or recorded any phone conversation, or that any official rule violations occurred. The inappropriate information shared with Mark Leibovich appears to have been limited to Kurt’s own correspondence with reporters.

“In November 2010, Kurt did seek permission from his supervisors to participate in a book project with Mr. Leibovich. His request was granted, but nothing that he described to his supervisors ever included the indication, intent, or possibility that he would be sharing reporter e-mail correspondence with Leibovich for his book. Kurt’s supervisors, including the committee’s Director of Communications Frederick Hill have told me that they did not learn about what Kurt was doing with reporter correspondence until the committee was first contacted by Politico last Friday evening. I have not found or heard anything, including Kurt’s own account, which contradicts these explanations.

“In explaining his intentions in participating in Mark Leibovich’s book, Kurt has told me he saw this as an opportunity to contribute a narrative about what a press secretary does on Capitol Hill and was not about offering salacious details designed to settle scores or embarrass anyone. My review of materials thus far supports that characterization.

“I intend to finish our review and rebuild any broken trust with the journalists who cover the important work of our committee.”

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