House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa points to tone deafness to explain the choice of an Obama donor to run the Justice Department's “investigation” of IRS targeting of conservative, Tea Party and evangelical political groups during the 2010 and 2012 campaigns. But the California Republican is being entirely too diplomatic. Putting a donor in charge is more like flipping the bird to Obama's critics.
When the IRS harassment abuse first became public last year, Obama promised a complete investigation. Attorney General Eric Holder described the IRS harassment as “outrageous and unacceptable” and ordered a joint investigation by the FBI and the Justice Department. But it's been obvious since then that the investigation has been, at best, perfunctory. A more accurate description of the probe may well be “criminal obstruction,” at least according to Issa.
In a Jan. 8 letter to Holder, Issa noted that, after repeated requests for information from the FBI about the progress of the probe, it “failed to provide the requested information, and, after the [Justice Department] apparently interfered, the [FBI] withdrew” its previous offer to meet with the oversight committee’s staff to discuss the investigation. It was in the same letter that Issa revealed the committee’s discovery that the Justice Department officials overseeing the investigation is trial attorney Barbara Bosserman.
Beginning with a $400 contribution in October 2004, Bosserman made at least 15 donations to Obama and the Democratic National Committee during the 2008 and 2012 campaigns. Since federal ethics law requires government officials like Bosserman to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest, she had no business accepting any assignment related to the IRS probe, much less managing it. It is difficult to conceive of a satisfactory explanation she might offer for why she took the job.
“By selecting a significant donor to President Obama to lead an investigation into inappropriate targeting of conservative groups, the [Justice Department] has created a startling conflict of interest,” Issa said in his letter to Holder. “It is unbelievable the department would choose such an individual to examine the federal government systematic targeting and harassment of organizations opposed to the president's policies. At the very least, Ms. Bosserman's involvement is highly inappropriate and has compromised the administration's investigation of the IRS.”
Bosserman should be removed from the IRS investigation without delay. And it is equally certain the investigation should be taken entirely out of the hands of Holder's Justice Department and placed with somebody from outside the executive branch such as a special prosecutor appointed by Congress. House Republicans should demand such an appointment, then leave it to Obama, Holder and Senate Democrats to explain to the American people why they shouldn't know the full truth about the most serious abuse of the IRS since Richard Nixon was in the Oval Office.