(Photo: REUTERS/Jose Luis Magana)
A Justice Department official who has donated to President Barack Obama's election campaigns has been appointed to lead the investigation into the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups. Two Republican members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee asked that she be removed. The Justice Department responded that it cannot take political affiliation into account in hiring decisions.
"By selecting a significant donor to President Obama to lead an investigation into the inappropriate targeting of conservative groups, the Department has created a startling conflict of interest," Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) wrote in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday. "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. At the very least, Ms. [Barbara] Bosserman's involvement is highly inappropriate and has compromised the administration's investigation of the IRS."
The letter documents the nearly $7,000 Bosserman has donated to Obama's campaign and the Democratic National Committee since 2004.
Bosserman works as a trial attorney for the Justice Department and was recently appointed by Holder to lead the investigation into the IRS targeting and harassment of conservative, evangelical and pro-life groups.
In a statement, the Justice Department said it was prohibited under federal law from considering "the political affiliation of career employees or other non-merit factors in making personnel decisions," and removing Bosserman from the investigation may violate the law and the department's equal opportunity policy.
Issa and Jordan also complained in the letter that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has not responded to requests for information about its own investigation into the IRS scandal, and backed out of a meeting with Jordan after Justice Department officials "apparently interfered."
The FBI's lack of cooperation, they wrote, "may rise to the level of criminal obstruction of a congressional investigation."