The FBI is contacting some conservative groups that were targeted by the Internal Revenue Service as calls heat up for a key Justice Department investigator to step down from the probe
after questions about her donations to President Barack Obama's presidential campaigns.
A lawyer working with some of the tea party groups told The Washington Times
that a "small number" of his clients were recently contacted, albeit seven months after the investigation was to begin.
"After seven months of no contact from federal investigators, a small number of our clients recently received a request for an interview from the FBI," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law & Justice, which represents more than three dozen of the organizations.
Cleta Mitchell, another attorney representing some of the targeted groups, said her clients have not heard from investigators.
"Normally, don't you first interview the victims?" Mitchell said. "I mean, I've watched enough cop shows over the years. You interview the victims. You don't interview the perp."
Republicans, though, say the whole investigation is under question following the selection of Justice Department attorney Barbara Kay Bosserman to lead the probe. Bosserman donated more than $6,000 to the president's campaigns, and Republicans say she cannot be impartial.
House Speaker John Boehner said he is concerned by the Obama administration's many obstructions on not only the IRS investigation, but many other issues.
"The administration has not been forthcoming with regard to the IRS investigation," the Ohio Republican said. "Furthermore, they've not been forthcoming when it comes to the Benghazi investigation or Fast and Furious. And the administration can try to stonewall as much as they want, but these issues are not going to go away. The American people have a right to know the truth. And for the administration that came in five years ago promising to be the most transparent administration in history, they've got a very poor record."
Meanwhile, Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul called for independent investigations into the IRS scandal.
"They say the fox isn't good to guard the henhouse; the fox is probably not good to investigate the henhouse, either," Paul said Thursday. "I think these investigations need to be done by independent people outside of the administration."
Last spring, Attorney General Eric Holder ordered an FBI investigation after it was revealed the IRS had been targeting conservative groups for additional scrutiny and delaying tax-exempt status for hundreds of groups' applications.
However, not much has been done with the investigation since that time, and House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and co-chair Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, complained last month
that the committee still has not gotten related documents.
While the FBI rejected many of Issa's demands for documents, he learned Bosserman was leading the investigation for the Justice Department, and on Wednesday he and Jordan sent a letter to Holder
saying her selection tainted the entire investigation.
The Justice Department says federal law and policy prevents it from denying assignments based on an employee's political views, and doing so violates workers' rights right to participate in the political process, The Washington Times reports.
Sekulow said his firm's clients are evaluating FBI's requests, but Bosserman's political leanings "create a serious conflict of interest and raises more questions and doubts about the Obama administration's promise to get to the bottom of what happened."
The FBI refused comment, pointing to a letter sent on Dec. 31 by Stephen Kelly, assistant director for the agency's office of congressional affairs.
"We would request that the committee permit the investigators to complete their investigation and consult with federal prosecutors, as appropriate, to determine whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation of any statutes within our jurisdiction," said Kelly. "As a result, we cannot provide the documents requested at this time while the criminal investigation is active and ongoing."
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