- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 1, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Darrell Issa said Tuesday he has fired his deputy communications director after learning that he shared e-mail correspondence from other reporters with a New York Times journalist.

The California Republican, who chairs the Oversight and Government Reform Committee and is the House GOP’s chief investigator, said he fired Kurt Bardella because his sharing of reporter e-mails with Times journalist Mark Leibovich was “a basic breach of trust with the reporters it was his job to assist.”

Mr. Issa said in a statement that Mr. Bardella had received permission from his supervisors to participate in a book project with Mr. Leibovich, but that no one in his office was aware, until the committee was contacted by the publication Politico on Friday, that that entailed sharing e-mails.

He said an initial review found no evidence that Mr. Bardella had provided Mr. Leibovich with internal committee or congressional documents or conversations, or that Mr. Leibovich had inappropriately heard or recorded any phone conversations.

“The inappropriate information shared with Mark Leibovich appears to have been limited to Kurt’s own correspondence with reporters,” Mr. Issa said.

He said that Mr. Bardella had explained to him that he saw his participation in Mr. Leibovich’s book “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.” Mr. Issa said his review of the materials supported that characterization.

Speaking later to reporters, Mr. Issa said Mr. Bardella was “a very talented individual” who had done good work. But “it’s very clear that he had a mistake in judgment thinking that his cooperating with a book somehow didn’t follow all the same standards that should have been followed in all cases.”

According to a Washington Post profile, Mr. Bardella, 27, worked as press secretary for Rep. Brian Bilbray, California Republican, and Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, Maine Republican, before joining Mr. Issa’s staff in January 2009.

In July 2009, Politico named Mr. Bardella one of Capitol Hill’s “50 Politicos To Watch.” “My goal is very simple,” he told the New Yorker in January 2011. “I’m going to make Darrell Issa an actual political figure.”

Associated Press writer Laurie Kellman contributed to this report.



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