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Rep. Darrell Issa may be pulled into fellow congressman's divorce

Contested divorces often ensnare friends and business associates of one or both parties. Rarely, however, does a divorce pit one congressman against another. This unusual spectacle is now unfolding as Ohio Rep. Michael Turner is attempting to compel California Rep. Darrell Issa to give deposition testimony in his divorce.

Turner commenced divorce proceedings against his wife in May 2017, according to court filings in the county where Turner lives. The complaint alleges that their marriage is a "fraudulent contract." According to Ohio law, fraudulent contract means that one party to the marriage made a false representation upon which the other party relied and which invalidates the marriage contract. The fraudulent contract apparently consists of an alleged extra-marital affair between Issa and Turner's wife, who is a Washington lobbyist.

Turner is said to have given Issa a letter asking him to testify in a deposition in the divorce proceeding. Engaging in an extra-marital affair and then concealing its existence may constitute fraudulent contract under Ohio law. However, a mere letter cannot compel a witness to appear for a deposition, and Issa could reject the request if he does not want to testify. A subpoena is necessary to force a non-cooperating witness to appear and give testimony at a deposition. It is unclear whether Turner's attorney has served a subpoena on Issa. For his part, Issa has denied all allegations that he had an affair with Turner's wife, and Ms. Turner's attorney has likewise denied the accusations.

This drama is far from over. Issa and Turner have been political colleagues (both are Republicans) for several years. Issa is not running for re-election, but Turner is seeking re-election from his Ohio district. Issa has not indicated whether he will willingly give deposition testimony, and he may retain counsel with a view toward resisting a subpoena. Several weeks are likely to pass before the outcome is known.

Source: CNN, "Congressman wants colleague Darrell Issa's deposition in divorce case," M.J. Lee, Feb. 13, 2018

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