A House oversight panel has invited Barbara Bosserman, a Justice Department attorney who contributed to President Obama’s political campaigns, to testify next week about a probe she has helped lead into the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of advocacy groups.
In an announcement on Thursday, the House Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Job Creation and Regulatory Affairs, chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), said the Feb. 6 hearing needed to take place in part because the Justice Department has “thus far refused to provide meaningful information” relating to lawmakers’ questions about the investigation.
Republican lawmakers have questioned whether Bosserman can remain impartial in the IRS case despite supporting Obama and the Democratic party. The career federal attorney donated a combined $6,750 to President Obama’s election campaigns and the Democratic National Committee since 2004, with most of her contributions coming during the last two presidential election cycles, according to campaign-finance records.
The Justice Department has noted that federal law prohibits the agency from taking political leanings into account when assigning cases. The agency also contends that its lawyers can fulfill their professional duties without bias despite exercising their Constitutional right to make campaign contributions.
“The men and women of the Justice Department have from time immemorial put aside whatever their political leanings are and conducted investigations in a way that rely only on the facts and the law,” Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah), the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee and part of a subcommittee that oversees the IRS, has accused the Justice Department of rushing to judgment in the case for reportedly deciding not to file criminal charges over the IRS’s controversial actions, which largely affected conservative groups during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles.
Holder said Wednesday that the IRS investigation is still active and that his department has not made a determination of whether to bring charges or decline the case. He declined to discuss specifics of the probe.
The hearing scheduled for next week would be the latest in a long line of inquiries from Republican lawmakers who have been searching for the past eight months for evidence of wrongdoing by top administration officials and even the White House in connection with the IRS controversy.
An inspector general’s report detailing the IRS’s inappropriate behavior found no evidence that the actions were politically motivated. An internal IRS review resulted in the same conclusion.
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