(WASHINGTON) — A GOP lawmaker’s divorce from a powerful lobbyist has captivated Capitol Hill, prompting another Republican member to deny allegations that he is romantically linked to his colleague’s estranged wife.
In an interview Tuesday evening, Rep. Darrell Issa confirmed he received a letter from Rep. Mike Turner last week seeking a deposition in Turner’s divorce from Majida Mourad.
“He’s looking to do discovery for something I don’t know or understand, and I think a little bit of it’s been blown out of proportion,” Issa, R-California, said. “I’m not a fact witness, to my extent. The letters talk about his claim that he was swindled into a fraudulent marriage by a woman he wants to be paid about $1.5 million for divorcing. I don’t know more than that, and it’s not my marriage or divorce, so I don’t need to.”
Records show Turner is seeking a $1.5 million divorce settlement.
Multiple sources say Turner also wants Issa to answer questions about his friendship with Mourad before the marriage, during the marriage and after Turner filed divorce.
At the invitation of Turner, Issa says he served as an usher in the 2015 wedding to Mourad. The marriage lasted less than two years.
“There were a lot of us there for a beautiful wedding in Dayton and whatever went wrong, went wrong,” Issa said.
Last May, Turner, an Ohio Republican who once served on the House Oversight Committee when Issa was chairman, filed for divorce from Mourad, a former congressional aide-turned energy lobbyist who is currently the vice president of government relations at Tellurian Inc.
Under Ohio court’s common pleas granting divorces, Turner identified “fraudulent contract” as justification for the divorce filing, multiple sources confirm. Turner did not file under “adultery,” which Ohio also lists as a common plea – a point Issa stressed twice during a four-minute interview.
“I made an outright, straight, clean, no ifs-ands-or-buts denial,” Issa said. “As far as I know she’s been completely faithful to her husband and you know, certainly I would have nothing to do with anything there. She’s made the same denial, and now I understand that he’s not claiming that. In Ohio, you can claim infidelity. He didn’t.”
Turner’s spokeswoman Morgan Rako declined to comment for this story. Turner’s lawyers, Wayne Waite and Jennifer Brumby, also did not respond to messages seeking comment.
Issa says he has been friends with Mourad for more than 20 years, even before he took office in 2001, when they met through her capacity as an aide to the late Rep. Sonny Bono.
“I was a big supporter of Sonny’s,” Issa recounted. “[Mourad] and I are both Lebanese-Americans and I know her mother, I know her father, and you know, she’s been in this town for a long time.”
Issa says he intends to cooperate with Turner’s request on one condition: “If they’ll give the nature of what they would like to ask, I’ll give them an honest answer,” he said.
Sanford K. Ain, one of Mourad’s attorneys, confirmed that Mourad also received a copy of Turner’s letter to Issa, though he also declined to provide a copy.
“Ms. Mourad is saddened that her short marriage of just over a year did not work out and she hopes to resolve it quickly in a dignified fashion. The parties are engaged in litigation currently in Montgomery County, Ohio and it will be handled and resolved in the courts. Ms. Mourad will not comment on details of the litigation and would prefer it be kept private,” Ain wrote in a statement. “Because it has been raised, Ms. Mourad was never unfaithful to Congressman Turner during the marriage, before or after Congressman Turner filed for divorce. Any allegation of her being unfaithful to Congressman Turner is simply false and defamatory.”
“Congressman Turner has never made any claims of adultery to Ms. Mourad and it has not been alleged in any court filings,” Ain continued. “He may have made these comments to third parties thinking it would advantage him in the divorce, but it has no basis in fact.”
Issa admitted his rapport with Turner has possibly soured in recent days in light of Turner’s letter seeking to depose him.
“Well, it may not be as good today as it was two days ago. But look, we’ve never had a harsh word. So, you know, I don’t know that there is “a problem” other than he’s going through a very difficult divorce.”
Issa, who has been married for 38 years to Kathy Stanton, amassed a fortune estimated at more than $330 million, consistently ranking him among the wealthiest members of Congress, according the Center for Responsive Politics.
A review of Common Pleas Court of Montgomery County, Ohio public records show that Turner filed a motion for a temporary restraining order against Mourad on May 18, 2017, but a day later filed a motion to vacate the order. Turner also filed an application for child support services.
Mourad filed for a protective order to prevent the disclosure of confidential information, including financial documents and deposition testimony. After her motion was denied, she appealed in a subsequent motion to specifically block disclosure of her Tellurian Inc. Restricted Stock Agreement, because it could “negatively impact her relationship with her co-workers.”
Judge Timothy Wood also denied that motion, writing “the court does not find that causing potential jealousy or discomfort in relationships with co-workers is sufficient basis for the issuance of a Protection Order concerning discovery matters.”
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