Frederick Hill (inset) and Darrell Issa
  • Frederick Hill (inset) and Darrell Issa
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Up on Capitol Hill, Frederick Hill, whose official title is deputy staff director for communications and strategy of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is best known as Darrell Issa's megaphone-in-chief.

His LinkedIn profile notes the GOP aide has "extensive experience developing and executing high-profile, national media communications efforts for [a] high-profile member of Congress and Congressional Committee.

Hill, adds the profile, has been the "on-the-record spokesman and strategist for high-profile investigations such as [the] Benghazi terrorist attack; IRS's disparate treatment of applicants for tax exempt status; [and] ATF Operation Fast and Furious gun-walking."

No one can argue that, thanks in large part to Hill's expertise and enthusiasm, Republican congressman Issa, the oversight committee's chairman, hasn’t made a big splash in national politics, perhaps on his way to greater glory in the U.S. Senate or other hoped-for higher office.

But even an ace communications strategist like Hill occasionally needs to get out of town to rub shoulders with high-powered "Slugline" types and brush up on the latest opinion-molding strategies.

Enter the Congressional Institute, the nonprofit corporation funded by corporate lobbyists and related donors to furnish educational junkets for GOP House members and their staffs and spouses.

When we last checked up on Issa's many House employees back in February, another top aide, committee staff director Lawrence J. Brady had just returned from a three-day Congressional Institute–sponsored junket to the posh Hyatt Regency Chesapeake hotel in Maryland.

"As staff director, I am required to be familiar with the public policy issues discussed at the conference so that I can assist members in the planning of the committee's agenda," Brady said on his subsequently filed disclosure report.

Peter Overby, a National Public Radio correspondent who covered the event, quoted Congressional Institute president Mark Strand saying that lobbyists pick up the tab at the bashes because the Republicans don't want to make taxpayers pay for the outings.

"The reception and the dinner of the first night [lobbyists] attend, which is typical for, you know, most organizations in Washington, D.C., that have support," Strand continued. "So they just attend the reception, just the dinner, and then they go home the next morning."

The Issa staff's latest free foray out of Washington came a few weeks ago, when Hill and wife Julia attended the Congressional Institute's "Legislative and Communications Directors Retreat" at the Philadelphia Marriot from June 12 to 14, according to his June 25 disclosure.

According to Hill’s report, the substance of the getaway dealt with "panels and discussions about communications best practices & current challenges related to official duties as Rep. Issa's spokesman."

"As Rep. Issa's spokesman, this event will assist me in keeping up to date with communications best practices to better inform our outreach related to official business."

As junkets go, the June trip was cheap, costing the institute a total of $1001.06 for Hill and wife.

Celebrity speakers on hand to impart their wisdom, according to the program, included the Daily Beast’s Kristen Soltis Anderson, a GOP pollster, and former House speaker Newt Gingrich.

Columnist Michael Gerson of the Washington Post was listed as giving a talk on "the power of well written words," and corporate representatives of Uber, Verizon, American Express, and Facebook anchored a presentation somewhat intriguingly entitled "Put. That. Coffee. Down"

The wrap-up included breakfast and a pitch by members of a group called the YG Network, which according to its website "is organized as a non-profit 501(c)(4) dedicated to supporting conservative policies and the efforts of policymakers who fight for those policies."

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dwbat July 1, 2014 @ 3:57 p.m.

So why doesn't Issa just pay for these trips out of his personal checking account? He's extremely rich, and wouldn't even miss that small amount of money. It's like a dollar or two, to you or me!


photog921 July 1, 2014 @ 5:57 p.m.

Not a business trip, Mr. Bob Hudson. It's a junket. There may be some "business" done, but it's definitely not The People's Business. And everyone knows it's all about the getaway; he went with his wife. It's not about the panels. And as usual, the taxpayers may not pay now, but they pay later. Way more than the amount declared.


dwbat July 1, 2014 @ 7:41 p.m.

I think it's called Monkey Business, done by Issa all the time.


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