ISSA FORGETS THE MEANING OF ‘TRANSPARENCY’…. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House oversight committee, contacted 160 or so trade associations, companies, and think tanks, asking them to put together a list of regulations he should eliminate. They’ve begun getting back to him, asking Issa to get rid of all kinds of environmental, worker safety, and consumer protection measures.

As it turns out, though, we don’t yet know exactly what all of the requests are, because Issa is keeping the correspondence secret. Seriously.

The committee chairman who obsesses over government “transparency” is the same GOP leader receiving instructions from business groups about the elimination of public safeguards, but refusing to even share them with the other members on his committee. Issa’s Democratic counterpart has decided to start contacting the business groups himself, asking for copies.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) is sending letters to many of the same 160 or so companies, trade associations and think tanks that panel Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) approached in December, asking which regulations they feel will harm jobs.

“I fully support bipartisan efforts to improve federal regulations to increase job growth while preserving the core safeguards these regulations were intended to protect,” Cummings said in a statement. “But since Chairman Issa has refused to provide Democrats with copies of the industry responses he has received to date, we have no choice but to request them ourselves.”

Cummings says he is contacting organizations independently to request copies of their responses to Issa, because the Republican has been reluctant to share the documents he’s received. Cummings also asked that any future correspondence to Issa be sent simultaneously to Democrats.

It’s almost funny, in a pathetic sort of way. The committee has scheduled a hearing for next week on the economic impacts of regulations, and the ranking member has heard from a variety of entities, each of which have prepared detailed responses, outlining various ideas. Issa, the chairman, refuses to share them.

It’s not like Cummings is asking for a peek into Issa’s personal emails here. The committee chairman sent officials requests to business groups, and the groups sent official responses related to safeguards that affect the public. In what universe does Issa think it makes sense to treat the materials as secret?

That’s not a rhetorical question. Issa’s office refuses to say — it has a secret reason to justify keeping public materials secret.

Issa’s off to a great start, isn’t he?

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.