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Tea Party supporters protest against IRS activity in June.
Associated Press/Photo by J. Scott Applewhite
Tea Party supporters protest against IRS activity in June.

Partisan probe?

Politics | The Obama administration picks an Obama supporter to investigate whether the IRS illegally targeted conservative groups

At least two Republican congressmen are criticizing the Department of Justice’s choice for its lead investigator into whether the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups for illegal scrutiny during the run up to President Barack Obama’s reelection. The reason: The investigator is an Obama supporter.

Trial lawyer Barbara Kay Bosserman donated more than $6,000 to Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, and several hundred dollars to the Democratic National Committee (DNC), according to The Washington Times.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) criticized Bosserman’s appointment in a letter Wednesday.

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“The department has created a startling conflict of interest,” they wrote. “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.”

An IRS auditor acknowledged last May that the agency had targeted the tax-exempt status of Tea Party and other conservative groups for excessive scrutiny during election years. The controversy extended beyond political organizations to pro-life and evangelical groups, including the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, James Dobson’s Family Talk Action Corporation, and Christian Voices for Life.

The Obama administration promised an investigation into the controversy but hasn’t released any public findings.

When it comes to Bosserman’s appointment, the Justice Department told the Times it’s against federal law to consider an attorney’s political leanings when making job assignments. (Bosserman contributed $400 to the DNC in 2004 and $250 in 2008. She contributed $3,600 to the Obama campaign in 2008, $2,000 in 2012, and $500 to the Obama Victory Fund in 2012.)

Though it’s perhaps unsurprising that Obama supporters would populate the Obama administration, Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ)—a conservative legal organization representing 41 organizations in a lawsuit challenging the IRS—said Bosserman’s appointment represents a conflict of interests in this case.

Sekulow said the appointment was “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 because of their political beliefs.”

The ACLJ reports that of the 41 groups it is representing in 21 states, the IRS granted tax-exempt status to 22 after lengthy delays. Twelve of the groups’ applications are still pending, five organizations withdrew their applications in frustration over the process, and the IRS closed the files of two of the groups when leaders refused to answer “the unconstitutional requests for more information.”

Jamie Dean
Jamie Dean

Jamie lives and works in North Carolina, where she covers the national political beat and other topics as news editor for WORLD.

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