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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

Is Doc Hastings eying House Oversight chair?

Politico's Rachel Bade reports this morning U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Pasco, may be considering a slot as chairman of the House of Representative Oversight Committee, to be vacated by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., at the end of next year.

"Call this Boehner ally and personal friend the wild card," Bade writes, introducing the nine-term House Republican who was the last to defeat current Washington Gov. Jay Inslee in a Congressional race when he wrangled the District 4 seat from Inslee, the incumbent, in 1994.

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In the last year, Issa has turned the chairmanship of the committee, which investigates the activities of all governmental branches, into a high-profile platform to criticize the Obama administration on issues including the Benghazi consulate attack, the foiled Fast and Furious gun trafficking operation and IRS targeting of pro-conservative groups' tax filings.

The Fast and Furious operation brought the relationship between Issa and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to a head last summer, when Issa pushed for a finding of Holdern in contempt of Congress after he declined to hand over documents related to the gun trafficking operation in Mexico. Weapons traded in the operation were found at the shooting scene where a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed in December 2010. 

Bade notes all the Republicans in contention as Issa's replacement "have the chops to probe the Obama administration and savvy to flack their findings on television."

While Hastings isn't next in line, seniority-wise, to replace Issa, Bade notes the current chair of the House's Natural Resources Committee has several traits that place him prominently among contenders. Most important? His proclivity for fundraising.

"Of all the candidates listed in this story, Hastings gave by far the most to the (National Republican Congressional Committee) in the 2012 election cycle: more than $682,000, according to FEC records," Bade writes.

Hastings' staff would not comment on the congressman's interest in the post for the Politico story. But in press releases from his post as the head of the Natural Resources Committee, Hastings has shown an ability to skewer the decisions of the Obama administration. Shortly after the president announced plans to designate new national monuments in March, including the San Juan Islands in northwestern Washington state, Hastings slammed the administration for taking over stewardship of the lands while pushing the harmful effects of federal budget cuts in the press.

"The Obama administration not only sees the sequester as an opportunity to make automatic spending reductions as painful as possible on the American people, it's also a good time for the president to dictate under a century-old law that the government spend money it doesn't have on property it doesn't even own," Hastings wrote in a statement following the announcement.

The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.