Issa endorses Berman despite ideological differences

When a Hollywood org recently honored two lawmakers at the opposite ends of debate over the Stop Online Piracy Act, the evening didn’t end in further division but unity. One, Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), endorsed the other, Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), even though they’re from different parties.

Berman, who is backed heavily by Hollywood studios thanks in part to his record as a champion of copyright legislation, is in a tough re-election fight against Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) for a San Fernando Valley congressional seat, where they find themselves competing against each other in the June primary following redistricting.

“I don’t tell people to vote for Democrats, and if there were a good Republican in the race, I wouldn’t tell you to vote for Howard, probably,” Issa told a crowd at the Caucus for Producers, Writers and Directors’ American Spirit Awards at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Sunday. “But the fact is Howard is in the race of his lifetime, and I want him back.”

Republicans Susan Shelly and Mark Reed are also running for the 30th congressional district seat, but the race has so far focused on Berman and Sherman.

Issa and Berman are each on the House Judiciary Committee, which in December hotly debated SOPA, anti-piracy legislation aimed at curbing foreign websites that traffic in infringing content. Issa helped lead the opposition to the legislation and co-sponsored an alternative, the Open Act, while Berman was among SOPA’s most prominent supporters. SOPA was ultimately sidelined after a huge protest online and in social media, and congressional leaders do not seem eager to take it up again until after the election.

Issa, however, noted Berman’s efforts to reach across the aisle, noting that he followed through when they worked together on legislation. “We didn’t just talk about talking,” Issa said.

He did make a quip about Berman’s brother, Michael, a redistricting consultant who had a hand in redrawing the maps in 2000. “His brother did shit on me in redistricting 10 years ago, and I am bitter,” Issa said. “I lost Orange County over it.”

Berman also praised Issa, calling him “one of the most creative elected officials with one of the most creative minds” he has served with in Congress.

Despite their differences on SOPA, Berman said that “we all agree there is an urgency here and an importance to addressing the issue.”

Issa said that “there will be a deal” on some kind of anti-piracy legislation. “Congress has to address this,” he said. “I want to get it right, so I’m not sorry that we didn’t get there, but I am sorry that we didn’t get back to the table the next day,” he added.

Writer-director Lionel Chetwynd introduced Issa, while Dennis Doty introduced Berman. Also honored were Bob Barker and Larry Auerbach.

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