FBI Finally Contacts Tea Party Groups Targeted by IRS

New concerns over the leader of the investigation donating to the Obama campaign


Maybe I should stop claiming my dog as a dependent.
Credit: scismgenie / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Why, it seems like it was about seven scandals ago when last we heard about the IRS targeting Tea Party nonprofit groups for extra-special possibly politically motivated scrutiny. While I'm sure some people figured it was all water under the bridge by now, the FBI has finally gotten around to actually contacting people at these groups for their investigation. The Washington Times has heard from a lawyer representing some of them. However, there's now a new cause for concern: The DOJ lawyer overseeing the investigation is a donor to President Barack Obama. That certainly makes things a bit awkward:

The progress was revealed a day after The Times reported that the Justice Department lawyer who is leading the investigation into the IRS, Barbara Kay Bosserman, has donated more than $6,000 to President Obama's presidential campaigns — a move that, for many Republicans, has called into question the entire investigation.

"They say the fox isn't good to guard the henhouse; the fox is probably not good to investigate the henhouse, either," said Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican. "I think these investigations need to be done by independent people outside of the administration."

Mr. Holder ordered an FBI investigation in the days immediately after the internal auditor of the IRS revealed that the agency had been inappropriately targeting tea party groups for intrusive scrutiny and wrongly delayed the approval of hundreds of conservative groups' applications for tax-exempt status.

Little has been heard about the progress of the investigation in the eight months since, and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa began his own investigation into the FBI's efforts.

Given the nature of government, I do have to wonder if there's a major DOJ attorney capable of leading the investigation who hasn't made donations to major political figures (imagine who would be complaining if she had donated to Mitt Romney). Not terribly long after the scandal broke, it appeared that the executive branch was treating the matter seriously and acknowledged that what happened was absolutely unacceptable. But then at a press conference later White House spokesman Jay Carney derided the scandal as "phony" partisan outrage. It was a bizarre approach, given that partisanship is arguably the source of the scandal in the first place. By any reasonable definition, this is a partisan scandal.