Old and busted: How dare the Bush administration politicize the Department of Justice by asking for resignations from political appointees! New hotness: Let’s put donors and political allies in charge of high-profile investigations! The first such case this week comes as Reps. Darrell Issa and Jim Jordan demand to know how the DoJ managed to select a donor to the Obama campaign to investigate political targeting within the IRS:
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) issued a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Wednesday demanding the department remove DOJ trial attorney Barbara Bosserman from the case, saying her involvement is “highly inappropriate and has compromised the administration’s investigation of the IRS.”
Bosserman donated a combined $6,750 to President Obama’s election campaigns and the Democratic National Committee between 2004 and 2012, according to federal campaign finance records.
The American Center for Law and Justice, which represents 41 groups suing the IRS over its controversial screening methods, also criticized the appointment of Bosserman to lead the probe.
“Appointing an avowed political supporter of President Obama to head up the Justice Department probe is not only disturbing but puts politics right in the middle of what is supposed to be an independent investigation to determine who is responsible for the Obama administration’s unlawful targeting of conservative and tea party groups,” ACLJ chief counsel Jay Sekulow said in a statement Thursday.
The DoJ insisted that it doesn’t take politics into consideration when selecting careerists for assignment, and argued that such consideration might itself break the law:
“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,” said Justice spokeswoman Dena Iverson. “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.”
Really? The DoJ doesn’t see any potential conflict of interest in assigning a checkbook partisan of that magnitude to an investigation into whether partisans in another executive-branch agency may have targeted political opponents of her preferred side? That’s absurd, but hardly surprising from a DoJ that investigated itself in Fast and Furious, and an administration that investigated itself in the NSA scandal, and issued itself clean bills of health in both cases.
How about with political appointees? That rule wouldn’t apply, no? Then why is a campaign donor to Democrats heading the Bridgegate investigation?
Paul J. Fishman, the U.S. attorney tasked with looking into New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s bridge controversy, has donated to several Democratic politicians and organizations, according to Federal Election Commission records.
Most notably, Fishman – who was nominated for the post by President Barack Obama in June 2009 – donated to then-Sen. Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign on June 30, 2007. At the time of the contribution, Clinton was battling then-Sen. Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination. Fishman donated $2,300 to Clinton, according to the FEC.
Fishman also supported then-Sen. John Kerry – who ran for president in 2004 – with a $500 contribution on June 25, 2003, and another donation of $1,200 on July 24, 2003.
All of Fishman’s campaign donations, according to the FEC, appear to have come during his time in private practice and all were directed to Democrats.
Fishman and Christie had tangled before, at least in the transition from Jon Corzine’s administration during an attempt to push through a raft of appointments before Christie took office. That kind of personal animosity, and party loyalties, don’t exactly add up to a dispassionate review of the facts of Bridgegate. It looks more like the DoJ wants a predetermined outcome … as it does whenever its investigations involve politics.
Remember when Democrats cared about the supposed politicization of the DoJ? Good times, good times.