Kurt Bardella, Issa’s 27-year-old spokesman and a key staffer for the powerful congressman, was being probed after Politico editor John Harris raised concerns about Politico journalists’ reporting being compromised by his sharing of emails with the Times’ Marc Leibovich.
Bardella was fired Wednesday. The congressman said in a statement:
"Kurt Bardella did share reporter e-mail correspondence with New York Times journalist Mark Leibovich for a book project. Though limited, these actions were highly inappropriate, a basic breach of trust with the reporters it was his job to assist, and inconsistent with established communications office policies. As a consequence, his employment has been terminated.
"In explaining his intentions in participating in Mark Leibovich's book, Kurt has told me he saw this 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."
Politico first reported the probe and published Harris’ Feb. 25 letter to Issa raising the issue.
The Washington Post reported today that the leak involves hundreds of emails to Issa’s office, many of them mundane correspondence. Politico reported that Badella’s job “hands in the balance of the internal probe.”
“The practice of sharing reporter e-mails with another journalist on a clandestine basis would be egregiously unprofessional under any circumstances,” Harris wrote to Issa. “As the editor-in-chief of Politico, my concern is heightened by information suggesting that Politico journalists may have had their reporting.”
Bardella was featured in a New Yorker profile of Issa earlier this year at the top of a “highly organized effort to manage [Issa’s] image” known as Issa Enterprises:
Kurt Bardella, the spokesman, who is twenty-seven, and whom Issa calls “my secret weapon,” fiercely screens all interviews. Bardella has a reputation as one of the savviest young spokesmen on Capitol Hill, someone who understands the complicated new media environment.
Ryan Lizza, who penned the New Yorker piece, shed some more light on the issue on the magazine's website after Bardella was fired Wednesday.
Issa has hired Daily Caller PR pro to replace Bardella.
(Bardella Image: PE.com)