Right-wing media have hyped demands from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) to illegally remove the Department of Justice attorney tapped to investigate the IRS targeting scandal because of her political contributions, despite the fact that the DOJ is prohibited by law from considering political affiliations or contributions in personnel decisions.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Illegally Demands Department Of Justice Remove IRS Investigator For Political Contributions
Rep. Darrell Issa: "Immediately Remove Ms. Bosserman From The Ongoing Investigation." In a letter sent to Attorney General Eric Holder, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa called DOJ attorney Barbara Bosserman's selection to investigate IRS actions "highly inappropriate" and claimed her selection compromised the investigation:
According to several current and former IRS officials whom both the Committee and the Department have interviews, Barbara Bosserman, a trial attorney in the Department's Civil Rights Division, is leading the DOJ/FBI investigation.
The Federal Election Commission's online records show that Ms. Bosserman has contributed a significant amount of money to President Obama's political campaigns.
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. 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. Bosserman's involvement is highly inappropriate and has compromised the Administration's investigation of the IRS. We request that you immediately remove Ms. Bosserman from the ongoing investigation. [House Committee On Oversight And Government Reform, 1/8/14]
Conservative Media Ignore Legal Ramifications While Hyping GOP Demands For Attorney's Removal
Fox's Sean Hannity: DOJ "Wanted A Fixed Outcome." Speaking with two Republican lawmakers on his radio program, Sean Hannity implied that the administration was attempting to rig the outcome of the IRS investigation even after one lawmaker explained the DOJ's position:
REP. LANKFORD (R-OK): Eric Holder's initial response was that we just randomly select all the different investigators and we can't choose to not select someone for a major assignment just because of their political leanings. I would have to disagree on that. If you got someone with strong political leanings, they should recuse themselves in this.
HANNITY: Yeah, you think? Why would they ever even be appointed unless you wanted a fixed outcome, for crying-- you know you can't get away with this stuff in the real world? This is the type of stuff, that would end up, if I did this, I would be handcuffed, perp walked, and you guys would act like you never heard of me before. That would be the reality for anybody else. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 1/9/14]
Fox's Greta Van Susteren: "I Think She Should Decline To Do The Investigation." In an interview with a tea party leader on her Fox News show, Greta Van Susteren said that Bosserman should remove herself from the investigation:
VAN SUSTEREN: I have a somewhat different thought on this. I think this looks bad. It doesn't give confidence right from the get-go. And you know, why do you want to start an investigation by making at least one of the parties feel very uncomfortable? I think the Justice Department can't go around asking, you know, how much money did you give in order to select who to investigate. But Barbara Bosserman is a member of the [American Bar Association], and one of the things that we have to do is we have to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest. Not even necessarily the real thing. I actually think that she should have declined.
I think that she should decline to do the investigation. [Fox News, On The Record with Greta Van Susteren, 1/9/14]
Daily Caller On Bosserman Selection: "Covert Cronies?" In an articled headlined "Covert cronies? Obama's attorney general appoints Obama donor to investigate Obama's IRS," the Daily Caller hyped Issa's demand that Bosserman be removed from the IRS investigation:
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. [Daily Caller, 1/8/14]
Breitbart: Selection Of Bosserman To Investigate IRS "Raises All Sorts Of Questions About The Investigation's Fairness." Breitbart.com promoted Issa's allegations of the impropriety of selecting Bosserman to investigate the IRS:
Bosserman's leadership raises all sorts of questions about the investigation's fairness. Rep. Issa's investigations revealed that she has been a loyal financial backer of the DNC since 2004 and has donated multiple times personally to President Obama's two campaigns. Her personal donation total reaches $6,750 to both the party and President Obama.
Choosing someone so openly and obviously partisan to lead an investigation into partisan targeting of opposition groups is "unbelievable" and "highly inappropriate," Rep. Issa asserts, and demands of the Attorney General immediate action to both remove Bosserman from leading the investigation and remedy any damage that may have occurred due to her involvement. [Brietbart.com, 1/8/14]
Justice Department: Attorney's Removal For Political Affiliation Could Violate The Law
DOJ Spokeswoman: Bosserman's Removal Could "Violate The Equal Opportunity Policy And The Law." In a statement, Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson pointed out that removing Bosserman from the investigation due to her political contributions, as Republicans are demanding, would be inappropriate and a violation of department policy. From The Washington Post's Federal Eye blog:
"It is contrary to department policy and a prohibited personnel practice under federal law to consider the political affiliation of career employees or other non-merit factors in making personnel decisions," DOJ spokeswoman Dena Iverson said in a statement. "Additionally, removing a career employee from an investigation or case due to political affiliation, as Chairmen Issa and Jordan have requested, could also violate the equal opportunity policy and the law." [The Washington Post, Federal Eye, 1/9/14]