Policy: Law

What FBI 'investigation' of the IRS scandal?

BY: Cleta Mitchell January 14, 2014 | 12:00 am
President Obama appointed Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct a criminal investigation into possible wrongdoing at the Internal Revenue Service. (Getty Images File)

Let's all be very clear: The FBI did not conduct an “investigation” into the IRS scandal.

Not unless there are new protocols for investigating potential unlawful activities, which discard the quaint notion of speaking to the victims.

In May, President Obama hurriedly called a White House news conference to stem the outrage about the IRS's admitted targeting of conservative groups, and emphatically told the nation: “I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives." He appointed Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct a criminal investigation into possible wrongdoing -- and since then, many of us have wondered, when actually is this investigation going to start?

Last week, we learned that the head of the “probe,” Barbara Bosserman, is a donor to Obama campaigns and the Democratic National Committee. This is, someone who could hardly be trusted to understand what all the fuss is about.

Now we learn that the FBI has “concluded” that there was no actual illegal activity involved in the IRS scandal, conclusions reached without ever speaking to a single conservative or Tea Party organization leader or attorney to learn what actually happened these past four years.

Having represented dozens of groups before the IRS over the years, including many victimized by the IRS in this scandal, one might have thought the FBI might have called me or even one of my clients.

But, to paraphrase the song, if our telephone ain’t ringin,’ I guess it must be the FBI “investigating” the IRS.

Had the FBI bothered to contact or interview me, any of my clients, or anyone who actually could tell the FBI what the IRS did, we could have provided some specific facts about the IRS scandal.

And here are some additional inquiries I would have suggested:

• What did the FBI do in terms of investigating the obvious lies to Congress in 2012 by assorted IRS officials who claimed there was 'no targeting' of conservative organizations? Last time I checked, it is a felony to lie to Congress (ask Roger Clemens).

• Did the FBI investigate why Catherine Engelbrecht in Houston was visited by the FBI seven times, was audited by the IRS both personally and in her family business, was visited by OSHA and ATF (twice), all within 18 months of her filing exempt organization applications with the IRS for two conservative groups?

• Did the FBI investigate whether there were illegal political considerations related to the audits of conservative organizations and donors nationwide — and the correlation of that widespread abuse of conservative citizens to the targeting of the conservative organizations?

In short, how can there be any semblance of legitimacy to an investigation when none of the victims were even interviewed?

And what crimes should have been on the radar screen of the FBI in a real investigation, in addition to lying to Congress? How about abuse of power and abuse of the public trust? What about honest services fraud?

Those are some crimes that come to mind. I wonder if the Department of Justice will apply the same lax legal standards to its investigation of how Gov. Chris Christie's administration spent federal storm relief tax dollars?

This is a new low for the FBI, which appears to have been completely silenced by this administration, starting with the president’s appointment of the very political Eric Holder, who in turn appointed Barbara Bosserman.

Shame on Robert Mueller and James Comey, the former and present FBI directors, for allowing this to happen on their watches Shame on them, too, for fighting very hard for months to keep from telling the truth to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa of California and subcommittee chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio about what the status of the FBI's “investigation.”

Not the FBI’s finest hour when the entire episode appears to demonstrate a bureau tightly controlled by the Obama administration and its political partisans.

Reminds me of the last scene in the movie “Chinatown” when Faye Dunaway shouts at Jack Nicholson: “He owns the police!”

It appears that the partisan Democrats in Washington, starting with the president, do indeed “own” the police in the form of the FBI.

We can be sure that these lawless chickens in Washington will ultimately come home to roost; our nation was founded and depends on unflagging dedication to the rule of law.

This woeful episode from the nation’s ostensible law enforcement authority is yet another nail in the coffin of that basic premise.

Cleta Mitchell is a political law attorney in Washington, D.C., who represents many conservative and Tea Party organizations.
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