Watchdog: Accountability

IRS probe chief must decide Thursday whether to testify before Congress

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Politics,Mark Tapscott,Watchdog,Barack Obama,IRS,Eric Holder,Accountability,Justice Department

Will she or won’t she? That’s the question House watchdogs are asking as they wait to learn whether they will hear testimony from the Justice Department lawyer — and Obama donor — who is investigating the IRS' targeting and harassment of conservative, Tea Party and evangelical religious groups.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, requested earlier this week that Barbara Bosserman testify Feb. 6 before a subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Operations Committee. Thursday is her deadline to tell Jordan her plans.

A spokesman for the committee told the Washington Examiner that Bosserman did not respond Wednesday.

"As the attorney general has said, this is an ongoing matter and there is no reason whatsoever to question the integrity of this very important investigation. We will be responding to [Jordan's] letter shortly," a Justice Department spokeswoman said Wednesday night in response to the Examiner's inquiries about whether Bosserman would testify.

More than 200 conservative, Tea Party and evangelical groups applied for nonprofit status during the 2010 and 2012 campaigns, but most have yet to receive an IRS determination in a process that normally takes only a few months to complete.

When the targeting became public last May, President Obama said he “would not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all our lives.”

Attorney General Eric Holder called the tax agency’s targeting “outrageous and unacceptable,” and announced the joint investigation with the FBI.

Bosserman, a career attorney in the Justice Department's civil rights unit, came to public attention earlier this month when Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and Jordan revealed that she had made more than 15 contributions totaling $6,750 to Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns and to the Democratic National Committee.

Jordan also noted in the Tuesday letter to Bosserman that she attended an October 2009 bill-signing ceremony in the White House as a guest of the president.

Attendance at such ceremonies is often used by presidents of both major political parties to reward campaign donors and supporters of bills being signed into law.

“With your history of extensive financial and personal support for the president and the Democratic Party, your involvement in the administration’s investigation raises the appearance of a substantial and material conflict of interest,” Jordan told Bosserman.

The Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 13 that Justice Department officials said they have no plans to file any criminal charges in the investigation.

The testimony request to Bosserman is the latest development in a bitter struggle between Issa and Jordan, both Republicans, and Obama and Holder.

Jordan referenced that struggle in his letter to Bosserman, saying “the Justice Department has flatly and unjustifiably refused to cooperate with the committee’s oversight.”

Jordan said the lack of cooperation contradicts the Supreme Court’s ruling that “the power of Congress to conduct investigations is inherent in the legislative process. That power is broad. It encompasses inquiries concerning the administration of existing laws, as well as proposed or possibly needed statutes.”

Mark Tapscott is executive editor of the Washington Examiner.
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