Meet The Lebanese-American Businessman Turned Influential Politician

Darrell Edward Issa, born in 1953, in Cleveland, Ohio, is the second of six children. His father was a Lebanese-American of the Maronite Catholic faith, and his mother is of German and Bohemian (Czech) descent and a Latter-day Saints. 

On his 17th birthday, Issa dropped out of high school and enlisted for three years in the Army. He became an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technician assigned to the 145th Ordnance Detachment.

Trained to defuse bombs, Issa stated that his unit provided security for President Richard Nixon, sweeping stadiums for bombs prior to games in the 1971 World Series.

Issa received a “hardship discharge” from the Army in 1972 after his father suffered a heart attack, and went on earning a General Educational Development (GED) certificate. 

He attended Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan, followed by Kent State University at Stark, where he enrolled in the Reserve Officer Training Corps.

He was commissioned as a second lieutenant, later serving in the Army Reserve from 1976 to 1980 and was promoted to the rank of captain.

Issa’s first campaign for elected office was in 1998 when he sought the Republican nomination for the United States Senate to run against incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer.

He lost the campaign to go then make another attempt in 2000, finishing first in the all-party primary with 35% of the vote, and winning a plurality in all three counties.

A member of the Republican Party, Issa served as the U.S. Representative for California’s 48th congressional district until 2001.

He was redistricted to represent California’s 49th, and, as of 2002, he was re-elected 8 times, serving from 2003 to January 2019.  

Issa was formerly a CEO of Directed Electronics, the Vista, a California based manufacturer of automobile security and convenience products.

Since January 2011, he has served as Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

His net worth has been estimated at more than $250 million, making him the “richest member of Congress.”

On September 19, 2018, US President Donald Trump nominated him to be Director of the United States Trade and Development Agency, and the results of this nomination are currently pending.

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