Republicans are charging that the Justice Department probe into the alleged political targeting of tea party groups by the IRS is tainted because the lawyer overseeing it has donated thousands of dollars to President Barack Obama's presidential campaigns.
According to The Washington Times
, Barbara Kay Bosserman, a trial lawyer in the Justice Department, donated more than $6,000 to the president’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns as well as hundreds of dollars to the Democratic Party.
Bosserman’s appointment as the lead prosecutor in the case has infuriated House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa of California and Ohio Republican Jim Jordan, who heads the panel's regulatory affairs subcommittee.
"The department has created a startling conflict of interest," the two lawmakers wrote in a letter to the Justice Department, the Times reported. " 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."
A Justice Department spokeswoman told the Times that it is "contrary to department policy and a prohibited personnel practice under federal law" to consider a lawyer’s political beliefs when making assignments.
Bosserman’s role is coming to light just as new IRS Director John Koskinen announced earlier this week that the congressional probe is of the IRS targeting incident is nearing its end.
That announcement further inflamed Republicans who have accused the agency of dragging its feet since May, when IRS official Lois Lerner admitted that some tea party organizations had their tax-exempt applications delayed and were subjected to "intrusive questions."
"Much of the IRS' effort has apparently been spent on redundant reviews and efforts to identify justifications for limiting what the agency discloses to Congress about the inappropriate targeting of groups because of their political beliefs," Becca Glover Watkins, spokeswoman for the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said in a statement in response to Koskinen's remarks.
"The IRS document production has been a frustrating experience. Had the agency decided to err on the side of transparency and followed Committee prioritization requests, this process could and should have been completed much sooner.”
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