Republicans Allege Compromise in DOJ Investigation of IRS Targeting

Republican members of Congress have alleged that the Department of Justice investigation into the IRS targeting of conservative tax-exempt organizations is compromised because the lead investigator contributed to President Obama’s election campaign.

Darrel Issa, Republican-California and House Oversight Committee Chairman, and Jim Jordan, Republican-Ohio, issued a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder in which they noted that the appointment of Barbara Bosserman by the Department of Justice was “highly inappropriate and has compromised the administration’s investigation of the IRS.”

Issa and Jordan requested that the Department of Justice remove Bosserman from the investigation.

Bosserman is a trial attorney with the IRS’s Civil Rights Commission.  Issa’s and Jordan’s concerns are based on the fact that Bosserman has contributed funds to the Democratic National Convention since 2004.  She also contributed to both of President Obama’s presidential election campaigns.  In total, Bosserman has given over $6,500 in contributions.

“By selecting a significant donor to President Obama to lead an investigation into inappropriate targeting of conservative groups, the Department has created a startling conflict of interest,” noted Issa and Jordan in their letter.  “It is unbelievable that the Department would choose such an individual to examine the federal government’s systematic targeting and harassment of organizations opposed to the President’s policies.”

While Jordan noted Republicans cannot prove the Department of Justice assigned Bosserman because of her political leanings, but he believed the selection of a civil rights attorney rather than an FBI agent was unusual and difficult to reasonably justify.

Jay Sekulow, from the American Center for Law and Justice, which is representing over 40 conservative organizations that are suing the IRS for delaying their applications for tax-exempt status, supports the position of Issa and Jordan.

“Appointing an avowed political supporter of President Obama to head up the Justice Department probe is not only disturbing but puts politics right in the middle of what is supposed to be an independent investigation to determine who is responsible for the Obama administration’s unlawful targeting of conservative and tea party groups,” said Sekulow.

A representative for the Department of Justice defended the appointment of Bosserman, noting they did not consider her political affiliation in their selection process and doing so would have been prejudicial.

“It is contrary to department policy and a prohibited personnel practice under federal law to consider the political affiliation of career employees or other non-merit factors in making personnel decisions,” noted Dena Iverson of the Department of Justice.  “Additionally, removing a career employee from an investigation or case due to political affiliation, as Chairmen Issa and Jordan have requested, could also violate the equal opportunity policy and the law.”

Investigation into IRS Yields No Findings after Eight Months

The investigation into the IRS’ scandal has been ongoing since May 2013, when the IRS first acknowledged publicly that it had delayed the tax-exempt applications of various conservative organizations.  To date, that investigation has not produced any formal findings.

The White House and IRS have claimed to date that the delays of various tax-exempt applications were not targeted at conservative or Tea Party-related organizations but rather at a variety of organizations.  However, over 80 percent of the organizations noting to have experienced delays have been identified as conservative in nature or otherwise opposed to Obama’s election.

by Mark Johnston

Mark has been a contributor to legal web sites related to bankruptcy, tax, and criminal law since 2011. He has an Accounting degree from Texas A&M University.