House Committee: DOJ Lawyers Have ‘Conflict of Interest’ In IRS Case

Patrick Howley Political Reporter
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Congressional investigators made another call for the appointment of an IRS scandal special prosecutor after discovering that key lawyers for the scandal-plagued agency have a “conflict of interest” in the case.

Department of Justice tax division attorney Andrew Strelka, who represented the IRS in litigation related to the scandal, worked under Lerner at the IRS Exempt Organizations division from 2008 to 2010. While at the agency, Strelka was part of the IRS’ conservative targeting scheme, according to documents obtained by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and provided to The Daily Caller.

“Be on the lookout for a tea party case,” IRS manager Ronald Shoemaker wrote to Strelka and others, including Washington-based Lerner underling Carter Hull, on March 17, 2010. “If you have received or do receive a case in the future involving an exemption for organization having to do with tea party let me know.”

The conflict of interest revelation comes just after Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton, who is suing to get Lois Lerner’s emails, told Fox News that the IRS backs up all of its emails and probably still has Lerner’s “missing emails” according to IRS attorneys.

As TheDC reported, Lerner targeted Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley for blocking Obama’s nominee to head the DOJ Tax Division in early 2010. The DOJ tax division helps prosecute criminal cases for the IRS. The administration’s conservative targeting program would have been easier to implement had the Senate approved inexperienced political appointee Mary L. Smith to take over the DOJ tax division.

IRS Office of Legislative Affairs employee Nicole Siegel, who deals with the matter of congressional oversight and worked on the IRS’ response to House investigations into the Lerner matter, is close with Lerner personally and worked for a PAC supporting Democratic candidates.

The DOJ Public Integrity section met with Lerner in 2010 to discuss the criminal potential of nonprofit political activity. Lerner later colluded with DOJ in a plot to prosecute conservative activists.

“This new information about additional conflicts of interest within the Justice Department shows that almost every facet of the Department with an interest in the IRS targeting investigation is compromised,” Oversight Committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa and subcommittee chairman Rep. Jim Jordan wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder. “From the Civil Rights Division to the Public Integrity Section and the FBI, from the Tax Division to the Office of Legislative Affairs, the Justice Department has serious and wide-ranging conflicts of interest in its handling of the IRS targeting matter. With these startling revelations, we reiterate the bipartisan calls for the appointment of an independent special counsel. In addition, to better examine the actions and experiences of Andrew Strelka and Nicole Siegel at the IRS and the Justice Department, and for other relevant matters, we request that you make Mr. Strelka and Ms. Siegel available for transcribed interviews with Committee staff.”

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