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Justice Department Accused of Stymying IRS Investigation

Nine months after Holder announced he was opening an investigation, neither the FBI nor the Justice Department has interviewed the victims.

by
Bill Straub

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February 26, 2014 - 7:30 pm

WASHINGTON – A former Department of Justice attorney is raising questions about the federal probe into the Internal Revenue Service’s alleged targeting of Tea Party organizations and other conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.

Appearing Wednesday before the House Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Job Creation and Regulatory Affairs, Hans von Spakovsky said the Justice Department is unjustifiably keeping a lid on the ongoing investigation and criticized the selection of Barbara Bosserman, an attorney in the Civil Rights Division, to lead the inquiry.

Bosserman has donated a combined $6,750 to President Obama’s election campaigns and the Democratic National Committee since 2004. Von Spakovsky, a former Justice Department official who is now a senior legal fellow with the Heritage Foundation and a contributor for PJ Media, said this should raise a red flag with the public.

“The Justice Department’s pick of Barbara Bosserman to lead or be involved in making decisions about this investigation raises the appearance of a conflict of interest because of her extensive political donations to President Barack Obama, who recently said there was ‘not a smidgen of corruption’ in the IRS scandal – even though the investigation is supposedly not complete,” von Spakovsky said.

The Bosserman appointment, and her financial contributions, could affect the public’s perception of “her ability to make unbiased, objective decisions in an investigation that could prove very embarrassing to the president she supports – a president who has already signaled through his public statements what he thinks the outcome of the investigation should be.”

House Republicans have expressed concerns with the course of the IRS investigation and are setting the stage for condemnation should it result in what some fear will be a whitewash.

The lower chamber, in fact, voted 243-176 on Wednesday in favor of the Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act of 2014, which prohibits the IRS from asking taxpayers questions regarding religious, political or social beliefs for one year. The measure was offered in response to the controversy.

“I was outraged to learn that the IRS was targeting applicants for tax-exempt status based on political leanings,” said Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), who supported the bill, which now heads to the Senate. “The fact that the IRS would target groups based solely on their political persuasions is an abuse of government power that must be brought to an end. Agencies like the IRS should never be allowed to target groups based on their ideological beliefs or for exercising their First Amendment rights.”

At issue are claims that the IRS either slow-walked or denied applications from conservative groups. Last May, the inspector general for the Department of the Treasury released a report concluding that the IRS was using “inappropriate criteria” in reviewing tax-exempt status applications from conservative groups under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Service code. These improper reviews, the inspector general said, resulted in “substantial delays in processing” the applications. It also was determined the groups were subject to “unnecessary information requests.”

The next day, Attorney General Eric Holder pronounced the agency’s actions “outrageous and unacceptable” and opened an investigation to determine if any laws were broken.

Congressional Republicans have voiced dissatisfaction with the Justice Department’s handling of the issue – particularly the appointment of Bosserman. The probe has not produced any results and the department has refused to share any information with Congress. Lawyers representing targeted groups have informed the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that the organizations have not been contacted by investigators.

“I find that simply incredible – that nine months after the attorney general announced he was opening an investigation, neither the FBI nor the Justice Department has conducted basic interviews with the victims to gather information about their dealings with the IRS officials and employees who may have been involved in wrongdoing,” von Spakovsky said.

Eileen J. O’Connor, former head of the Justice Department’s tax division, told the subcommittee that the matter should have been handed over to the department’s criminal division instead of given to a civil rights division official.

“Some have criticized that selection as inappropriate because the attorney contributed to the president’s campaign and to other causes of his political party,” O’Connor said. “But when does support for the sitting president and his party make one an imprudent choice for an assignment? Not usually. But perhaps it does when the assignment is to investigate the administration’s alleged mistreatment of its political adversaries.”

O’Connor said “justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done. When wrongdoing has come to light, the public deserves to know that those responsible have been identified and dealt with appropriately and that the law has been enforced impartially.”

“It is for this reason that judges recuse themselves from deciding cases,” she said. “Not because they would not be able to rule impartially, but because there might be a reason the public might think they are not impartial. It is essential to respect for our laws that even the appearance of partiality be avoided.”

These same considerations are applicable in the assignment of a case to a DOJ employee.

“While the Justice Department might not be permitted to take into account an employee’s political contributions, in this case, where the very allegations are of targeting people and organizations for political reasons, avoiding the appearance of partiality or of a conflict of interest might have been in the best interests of justice,” O’Connor said.

In a letter to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said the agency has been forced to devote 225 employees and more than 97,000 hours responding to the 501(c)(4) investigation at a cost of $7,989,119.

The result, Cummings said, is no evidence of wrongdoing.

“After one of the most far-reaching investigations in recent history — spanning multiple House and Senate Committees that obtained hundreds of thousands of documents and interviewed dozens of officials — there is absolutely zero evidence of political motivation or White House involvement,” Cummings said. “Despite this fact, Republicans remain fixated on falsely accusing the White House of targeting its political enemies, wasting millions of dollars in an attempt to reignite their partisan inquiry before the November elections.”

Washington freelancer Bill Straub is former White House correspondent for Scripps Howard News Service.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
"Nine months after Holder announced he was opening an investigation, neither the FBI nor the Justice Department has interviewed the victims."

The victims will all be interrogated ... I mean interviewed ... just as soon as Obama and Holder figure out a way to prosecute them all and send them to a Gulag ... I mean a federal pen.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
Stonewalling, pure and simple. Holder should be impeached for abuse of power, and dereliction of duty.

22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (18)
All Comments   (18)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
America is meek, so America will fail, so much Evil everywhere. Please open your eyes and not be blind and voice the might of Jesus Christ!

Impeach The Godless, Perverse, Toxic, Lying, Hypocritical, Overindulging, Evil, Sinner, Loafer and Bum, IQ equivalent to Nutritional value of Soda, Devils Son, Democratic Degrading Party Leader standing behind Jay Carney, and the skirt of Valerie Jarrett
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm all for stiffening the rules. I don't like anybody but me paying my politicians.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
by picking Bossermann to lead the investigation, the administration has made the case for a special prosecutor

from Benghazit to the IRS scandal, Issa seems incapable of articulating what is at stake here for the average citizen
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
There is nothing at stake. He's tried every trick in the book and drug in every IRS employee he can find and is too stupid to figure out there is nothing there. I knew a long time ago there was nothing there other than some poor management because they weren't smart enough to realize they were dealing with a very ambiguous regulation. Ambiguity is trouble every time. Now they are doing what they should have done right after the ruling.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
And another thing. Why doesn't Issa just issue subpoena's from here on out? These guys are just running out the clock - and it is working!!
If Lois Lerner does not testify, or pleads the fifth I would arrest her immediately, and hold her as long as "the law" allows. During that time I would have congressional investigators screaming/ threatening what will be done of she does not cooperate.
We have to give her immunity for her to talk. The reason others have not been fired is because they would blow the whistle on Barry if their careers are ruined.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
The kicker for me is the 7+ million bucks to "respond". If there is no wrong doing why didn't they just hand over the documents requested? Sometimes I think the politicians in general think they are talking to 8 year olds.

The sad thing is the American voter knows they are lying, but doesn't even show up to the polls to do anything about it. We are marching ourselves into the showers people!!
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Good article but Bill, please do not refer to the House of Representatives as the 'lower house'. Although often used it is improper and promotes a mis
understanding of the relationship between the two chambers. Note that nowhere on the respective websites of The House or The Senate are the terms 'upper' and/or 'Lower' used.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
There's a cover-up for sure. Boehner wants the IRS on the Tea Party's back. A special prosecutor is needed. Get it out of congress' hands now.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
looks like we are seeing an acceleration of crooked behavior by the half wit and his motley crew of career criminals. they are starting to realize they can't forge enough votes in nov. to quietly steal another election. so, next option? the 'go for broke' alternative, as predicted 5 yrs ago, where they get so outrageous (like telling a.g.'s to disregard the law as it suits them) disregarding the rule of law, that when things heat up the kool kenyan has an excuse/pretense for declaring martial law and thus ending our great American experiment in freedom.

only one real problem left to implement this plan. we Patriots still have our guns. hard to be 'kang halfwit obi I' when millions of armed (and pi$$ed off) rednecks want your hide tacked to a barn door. looking a lot like hunters may need a special open season this year on halfwits. probably have to buy a special tag for that. money well spent though. wonder what the limit will be? //sarc off//
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
" John Koskinen said the agency has been forced to devote 225 employees and more than 97,000 hours responding to the 501(c)(4) investigation at a cost of $7,989,119."

Poor dears. Tears of joy comin' to ya from here! Bastards...
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
I believe that the claim of spending 97,000 hours divided by 8 hours a day, divided by 5 days divided by 20 working days per month = 121.25 months = 10 years the Agency has spent responding to the 501(c) (4) investigation. Is the decimal in the wrong place? Will someone please check my figures? I simply do not have a head for numbers. Then could you also please, determine how much of the $7,989,119 was paid those 225 employees per day,week, month? These things do come to mind. I simply cannot believe the numbers I have come up with.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Divide by 225 employees.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
You got the easy part. How about the rest, from the info socalbill gleaned from the article? Guess math is not your strong suite either.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Since when does this administration ever complain about spending money? Maybe it's because the results of this spending could make them look, well, you know, like criminals or something.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
I believe that our Heavenly Father invented Barack Obama and Eric Holder because he was disappointed in Pinocchio. I believe that whenever Barack Obama or Eric Holder delivers any opine on any matter it will almost always be so filled with half-truths and out right complete lies and so valueless a sort that it can be depended upon to suggest to our Heavenly Father that Barack Obama and Eric Holder are an even bigger disappointment and a very large step backwards from even Pinocchio.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
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