GOP seeks to oust head of probe into IRS audits of conservative groups
WASHINGTON — The head of a criminal probe into allegations that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups and tea party supporters personally donated a total of $6,750 to President Obama’s election campaign and the Democratic National Committee, spurring Republicans to call for her removal.
Republicans said Thursday that political contributions by Barbara Bosserman, a prosecutor in the Justice Department’s civil rights division, raised questions about her objectivity and the integrity of the investigation into the IRS.
“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,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) wrote in a letter to Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr.
“At the very least, Ms. Bosserman’s involvement is highly inappropriate and has compromised the administration’s investigation of the IRS,” wrote Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Jordan, chairman of the House Economic Growth, Job Creation and Regulatory Affairs Subcommittee.
Justice officials defended Bosserman’s appointment, saying that she had a “constitutional right” to contribute personal money to political campaigns and that federal agencies are not permitted by law to make personnel decisions based on someone’s political affiliation.
Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson said inquiring about a potential appointee’s political leanings is contrary to department policy and prohibited under federal law. She said removing Bosserman from the post “could also violate the equal opportunity policy and the law.”
According to records from the Federal Election Commission, Bosserman gave $400 to the DNC in 2004 and $250 in 2008. She also contributed a total of $6,100 to Obama’s presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012.
The Republican congressmen called it a “significant amount of money” for Obama and characterized Bosserman as a “longtime financial backer” of the DNC.
Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, which is suing the IRS on behalf of organizations allegedly targeted with audits, said Bosserman’s appointment was “disturbing” and “put politics right in the middle of what is supposed to be an independent investigation.”
FBI Director James B. Comey, whose agents are working under Bosserman, said he did not know her and was not involved in her appointment. But he said the probe remains a top priority for the bureau.
The view from Sacramento
Sign up for the California Politics newsletter to get exclusive analysis from our reporters.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.