Darrell Issa has established a reputation for publicizing potentially sensitive government documents — in May 2011 he leaked documents that had been placed under court seal in his Fast and Furious investigation into a botched undercover operation that allowed drug cartels to smuggle weapons into Mexico.
In July 2013, Issa exposed federal Transportation Security Administration documents with information on security at various airports. In October 2012, he published sensitive State Department cables online that identified operatives in Libya cooperating with the United States.
Last month the congressman, whose district includes a large swath of northern San Diego County, demanded documents relating to the security protocols at healthcare.gov, the main web portal for consumer access to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. He received them, but not without a fight from the Health and Human Services Department, where officials cited concern for the safety of consumer information due to Issa's history.
Within a week of receiving an unredacted copy of the security report, Issa had posted a portion of the report suggesting that the site had exploitable security faults online in a December 17 letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
On Tuesday, January 14, Courage Campaign, a Los Angeles–based group that "fights for a more progressive California and country" and claims over 850,000 members, launched a petition pleading with Issa not to release any more information in his possession.
"Do NOT jeopardize the security of HealthCare.gov by exposing the confidential documents you subpoenaed from MITRE Corporation," reads the petition (MITRE is the federal contractor hired to conduct security analysis on the healthcare.gov website). "If leaked, they will compromise the privacy of millions of Americans."
Courage Campaign and others, including MITRE, have argued that leaking information related to website-security measures only increases the likelihood that a would-be hacker might gain access to personal consumer data.
"Rep. Issa issued the subpoena with zero grounds to suspect any security breaches and refused to allow the website’s contractor to redact the most sensitive details, despite adamant warnings about the extreme security risks," says Dr. Paul Song, executive chair of Courage Campaign. "The Chairman has already released portions of the documents in a public letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and there is no telling what else he might reveal."
As of Saturday afternoon, January 18, the petition had gathered 18,238 signatures, 91 percent of their goal of 20,000. Site political director Eddie Kurtz said the petition would likely remain active through the weekend before being presented to Issa staffers.
(corrected 1/20, 5:55 a.m.)