House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., has just fired his press secretary for forwarding email correspondence with Politico reporters to a writer working on a book.
Issa's Deputy Communications Director, Kurt Bardella, has been "terminated" for sharing emails from Politico with Mark Leibovich, a New York Times reporter who is writing a book about Capitol Hill reporters and power players.
The statement tells a very interesting story. It looks like Politico went after Bardella over the emails. Bardella had already been in hot water for making statements to The New Yorker about lazy reporters, which were published in January.
Here's the statement from Issa:
March 1, 2011
Issa Statement on Findings of Improper Conduct by Member of Press Staff
WASHINGTON D.C. - Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa released the following statement about the review into allegations of improper e-mail sharing raised by Politico:
"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."