The presidential election isn’t the only nightmare awaiting us in November. Welcome to Congressional Cacophony, a feature on The Slot about House and Senate races that really, really matter. Suggestions? Pitches? Email us.
Although he was also indicted for stealing a car and has been accused of arson, Rep. Darrell Issa (R) of California’s 49th congressional district is perhaps most widely associated with a fun day in February 2012 when, as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, he arranged a hearing on contraceptive access in which five men and zero women were invited to testify. Issa is currently up for re-election, and ladies, he’d like your vote!
A tipster sent Jezebel some materials circulated by Issa’s campaign, and newsflash, everybody: Darrell Issa loves woman stuff, and women—at least two of them—love him right back.
The 2012 hearing was titled “Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?” and the first panel was a brave spritz of Axe in the eye of the administration’s requirement that insurance companies cover (ew!) birth control.
Former Jezebel staffer Erin Ryan described the hearing on this website back in 2012:
From Issa’s opening statements that ‘a man’s conscience’ should guide laws in America (and his failure to see the irony in using masculine nouns in a hearing that was ultimately about female parts) to his interrupting of DC’s Eleanor Norton when she angrily requested clarification of rules, the entire hearing was was a tone deaf symphony that showcased just how delusional religious men who feel persecuted by the wide availability and accessibility of the pill actually are.
Democrats were allowed one witness—Georgetown student Sandra Fluke, who was rejected from speaking at the hearing by Issa (who deemed her not “qualified,” unlike, say, Reverend Dr. Matthew Harrison) and would go on to become a champion for reproductive rights.
“I look at this panel, and I don’t one single individual representing the tens of millions of women across the country who want and need insurance coverage for basic preventive health care services, including family planning,” New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney said to the panel. “Where are the women?”
Issa later compared his panel’s work to that of Martin Luther King, and went merrily on his way. In the years since, Issa—who is pro-life and one of the wealthiest members of Congress—has voted against paid parental leave for federal employees, gotten himself escorted out of a Benghazi panel, and endorsed Donald Trump in early May.
Issa, who has held his seat since 2003 (from 2001-2002, he was the representative for California’s 48th district), will face retired Marine Col. Douglas Applegate (D) on November 8th. Thanks largely to Issa’s support for the increasingly radioactive Trump, the election is expected to be a close one.
Best of luck to this ally on his reelection bid.