Obama political donor leading Justice Department’s IRS investigation

Two Republican lawmakers and a conservative legal group are crying foul over the Justice Department’s selection of a Democratic donor to lead the agency’s investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of advocacy groups during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles.

Republican House Oversight chairman Darrell Issa of California. (Brendan Hoffman/Getty)
Republican House Oversight chairman Darrell Issa of California. (Brendan Hoffman/Getty)

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) issued a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday saying DOJ trial attorney Barbara Bosserman’s involvement is “highly inappropriate and has compromised the administration’s investigation of the IRS.” They asked that the department remove her from the case.

Bosserman has donated a combined $6,750 to President Obama’s election campaigns and the Democratic National Committee since 2004, with the vast majority of the contributions coming during the last two presidential election cycles, according to federal campaign-finance records.

The American Center for Law and Justice, which is representing 41 organizations suing the IRS over its actions, criticized the appointment of Bosserman to lead the investigation in a statement on Thursday.

“Appointing an avowed political supporter of President Obama to head up the Justice Department probe is 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,” said ACLJ chief counsel Jay Sekulow.

The Justice Department contends that there was nothing improper about naming Bosserman to lead the investigation and that taking her political leanings into account would have been inappropriate.

“It is contrary to department policy and a prohibited personnel practice under federal law to consider the political affiliation of career employees or other non-merit factors in making personnel decisions,” DOJ spokeswoman Dena Iverson said in a statement. “Additionally, removing a career employee from an investigation or case due to political affiliation, as Chairmen Issa and Jordan have requested, could also violate the equal opportunity policy and the law.”

Follow Josh Hicks on TwitterFacebook or Google+. Connect by e-mail at  josh.hicks@washpost.comVisit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics for more federal news. E-mail federalworker@washpost.com with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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