Darrell Issa Biography

(U.S. House of Representatives from California)

Birthday: November 1, 1953 (Scorpio)

Born In: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

American entrepreneur and Republican politician Darrell Issa currently serves as a Member of the US House of Representatives from California’s 48th district. He has also represented California’s 49th and 50th congressional districts earlier. Before being elected to Congress, he had served the US Army and had also been named Captain. A successful businessman, Issa co-founded the car security device company Directed Electronics with his former wife, Kathy.  He is also known for his campaign to recall former California governor Gray Davis. A senior member of the House Judiciary and the House Foreign Affairs Committees, Issa has also chaired the House Oversight Committee in the past. One of the wealthiest members of the Congress, he has also been named the Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young and other organizations. Over the years, he has worked to ensure the government’s accountability, has battled human trafficking, and has been a champion for the protection of intellectual property rights.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Darrell Edward Issa

Age: 70 Years, 70 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Katherine Stanton Issa (m. 1980–2021)

father: William Issa

mother: Martha Bielfelt

Born Country: United States

Business People Political Leaders

U.S. State: Ohio

Notable Alumni: Siena Heights University

More Facts

education: Siena Heights University

Early Life, Education, & Military Career

Darrell Issa was born on November 1, 1953, in Cleveland, Ohio, US. He was the second of the six children of his parents, Martha and William Issa.

His father, the son of Lebanese immigrants, was a seller of trucks and ground valves. His mother was of German and Czech origin. Issa grew up in a Jewish neighborhood in Cleveland Heights, which made him acquainted with Jewish culture.

In 1970, while in his senior year in high school, 17-year-old Issa dropped out and enlisted in the US Army. He later obtained a business administration degree from Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan, completing the degree at the Kent State University Stark campus.

He earned a Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC) scholarship while at Kent. During his time in the army, he worked as a bomb disposal technician, a tank platoon commander, and a computer R&D specialist. While he served in the Army Reserve from 1976 to 1980, he was promoted to Captain and joined active service briefly in September 1980, shortly before quitting the army.

In his younger years, he had been on the wrong side of the law more than once. He was once sent on probation for possession of an unregistered firearm.

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Business Career

In 1982, Darrell Issa co-founded Directed Electronics, a Vista, California-based electronics company, with his then-wife, Kathy. He later headed the company as its CEO and turned it into the US’s largest manufacturer of anti-theft and security devices for cars.

In 1994, he was named the Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young, Inc. Magazine, and The San Diego Union-Tribune. He slowly gained 35 patents and also chaired the Consumer Electronics Association, a group of about 2,000 companies operating in the consumer technology industry.

He has also been part of the board of governors of the Electronics Industry Association and the director of the San Diego Economic Development Association and of the Greater San Diego County Chamber of Commerce.

It is Issa’s voice that is still heard in the Directed Electronics product Viper car alarm warning "Please step away from the car.” The self-made millionaire has been one of the top 5 most affluent members of the Congress every year since coming to office.

Political Career

In 1996, Republican Issa served as a co-chair of the campaign to pass the California Civil Rights Initiative that was geared toward ending racial and gender preferences and quotas in college admissions and state contracting. In 2003, Issa contributed to the recall election of Gray Davis, former California governor. As a result, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger took over as the state's new governor.

In October 2007, Issa declared he would support the Presidential Electoral Reform Act, that would have transformed the way California selected representatives to the presidential electoral college. Darrell Issa served as the Member of the US House of Representatives from California's 48th congressional district from 2001 to 2003 and as a Member of the US House of Representatives from California's 49th congressional district from 2003 to 2019.

From 2011 to 2015, he served as the Chair of the House Oversight Committee. On September 19, 2018, then-President Donald Trump declared he would nominate Darrell Issa to lead the US Trade and Development Agency.

From 2021 to 2023, Issa was a Member of the US House of Representatives from California's 50th congressional district, whereas in 2023, he took over as a Member of the US House of Representatives from California's 48th congressional district, after winning the general election on November 8, 2022. His current term is supposed to end in January 2025.

He has also been a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee and of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He has held several Caucus memberships, too, including those of the Congressional Constitution, Climate Solutions, and the Republican Study Committee. Issa has previously headed the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the Small Business Committee, and the Energy & Commerce Committee.

As a congressman and a grassroots-level leader of California, he has supported limited government and advanced legislation for balancing the federal budget and for promoting transparency to ensure the government’s accountability to people. He has also been a major supporter of the protection of intellectual property rights.

He is known for his work to fight human trafficking along the US border, which has resulted in tougher laws and harsher penalties for the crime. He has also worked to ensure that US taxpayers receive their due royalties from mineral interests on federal lands. In 2006, he exposed fraud and mismanagement at the Mineral Management Service (MMS).

In 2008, when the US Congress was told to pass the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), following that year’s financial crisis, Issa, equipped with his experience of delivering and managing successful businesses, opposed offering a “blank-check bailout” to Wall Street. He also voted against all government bailouts.

Personal Life

Darrell Issa married his high-school sweetheart Marcia Enyart in the 1970s, but they divorced later. In 1980, he married Katherine “Kathy” Stanton.

Issa had apparently met Kathy when she had locked her keys inside her apartment, and Issa, her next-door neighbor back then, had scaled a balcony and broken into her house to help her get in. The couple later had a son, William Issa.

Initially, they had invested their life savings of $7,000 in a small electronics assembly company named Quantum Enterprises. They then co-founded the car-security company Directed Electronics, which was known for its Viper alarm system.

For a long time, the couple stayed in Vista, California. In July 2018, Issa filed for divorce from her, and it was not before March 2021, that their divorce was granted.

Issa is an ardent music lover. He loves listening to artists such as Harry Chapin, Eagles, and The Beach Boys.

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