President Barack Obama’s deputies have picked one of his political donors to investigate the IRS’ attack on independent political groups during the 2012 election, according to California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House investigations committee.
“We request you immediately remove Ms. [Barbara] Bosserman from the ongoing investigation,” said a Jan. 8 letter from Issa to Attorney General Eric Holder.
The secret selection of Barbara Bosserman, a lawyer in the Department of Justice’s civil rights division, was revealed by a committee investigation after the DOJ stonewalled the legislators.
Bosserman contributed $6,100 to Obama’s political campaigns from 2008 to 2012.
“By selecting a significant donor to President Obama to lead an investigation into inappropriate targeting of conservative groups, the Department has created a startling conflict of interest,” said Issa’s letter.
“It is unbelievable that the Department would choose such an individual to examine the federal government’s systematic targeting and harassment of organizations oppose to the President’s policies… Please provide a comprehensive explanation of the decision to assign Ms. Bosserman to the DoJ/FBI investigation of the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups,” the letter continued.
The IRS’s enemies list was exposed in May 2013, and caused a brief scandal in the establishment media.
The IRS damaged the civic groups because of their affiliation with the small-government tea party movement. Many groups were hit by burdensome requests for information, unprecedented requests for private information and the denial of full non-profit status.
The denial of the non-profit status to the groups hindered their fundraising and curbed their advocacy for small-government policies during the 2012 campaign, which Obama won.
Since the 1960s, many left-of-center progressive groups have portrayed themselves as victims of inappropriate government investigations. However, few progressive groups, including those oppose to government overreach, have denounced the IRS investigation.
However, administration officials have managed to minimize media coverage of the scandal by suppressing news about subsequent investigations.
In May, Obama fired the IRS’ acting chief, but since has worked to downplay the existence of his enemies list. For example, in a December interview on MSNBC, Obama minimized the IRS’ political suppression and then rebuked one of his supporters, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews for covering the scandal in an TV interview last month.
“You’ve got an office in Cincinnati in the IRS office that, I think, for bureaucratic reasons is trying to streamline what is a difficult law to interpret about whether [a] nonprofit is actually a political organization,” Obama said. “And they’ve got a list. And suddenly, everybody’s outraged.”
Obama then criticized coverage of the scandal by Matthews and other progressives.
“There are some so-called progressives and … perceived-to-be-liberal commentators, who during that week, just were outraged at the possibility that these folks … had been, you know, at the direction of the Democratic Party in some way, discriminated against tea party folks,” he said, while looking at Matthews. “That is what gets news. That’s what gets attention.”
Amid administration pressure, FBI officials cancelled an offer to meet with Issa’s deputies, according to Issa.
Issa’s letter protested the FBI’s refusal to speak with legislators. “The FBI’s blatant lack of cooperation with the Committee may rise to the level of criminal obstruction of a congressional investigation,” said the letter.
FBI director James Comey was appointed by Obama to head the FBI, and was sworn in last October.