- Spain, Morocco break up jihadist recruitment cell, arrest 7
- Muslim insurgents shoot then set on fire Buddhist teacher in Thailand
- Air Force cadets ‘revolt’ after officials remove biblical verse from whiteboard
- Rep. Lee: Paul Ryan out of touch with urban Americans
- House votes down resolution to force Issa to apologize
- Kremlin blocks opposition websites; Kasparov fears Putin plans ‘something drastic’
- Saving trees? EPA wastes $1.5 million storing unneeded pamphlets in warehouse
- Scott Brown Senate bid in New Hampshire may launch soon
- Jeffrey Corzine, son of ex-N.J. governor, dead at 31
- Australian surfing magazine sorry for calling indigenous surfer ‘apeish’
Issa: FBI impeding inquiry into IRS targeting of conservative groups
The House’s chief investigator says the FBI is stonewalling his inquiry into whether the agency and the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative group True the Vote for special scrutiny, and Rep. Darrell E. Issa is now threatening subpoenas to pry loose the information from FBI Director James B. Comey Jr.
Mr. Issa, California Republican, and Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican, are leading the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s IRS inquiry. They also said the FBI is refusing to turn over any documents related to its own investigation into the IRS, which began in the days after an auditor’s report revealed the tax agency had improperly targeted tea party groups for special scrutiny.
Six months after it began, the FBI’s investigation has resulted in no release of information. The congressmen said the FBI even rescinded an offer for an in-person briefing with the assistant director in charge of the investigation. The reversal, after the FBI consulted with the Justice Department, suggests political meddling, the two investigators said.
“The department’s tactics have impeded a congressional investigation and interfered with the committee’s access to documents and information. Obstructing a congressional investigation is a crime,” Mr. Issa and Mr. Jordan said in their letter to Mr. Comey, warning that if they don’t get the information they will use “compulsory” means.
They set a Dec. 16 deadline.
The internal auditor for the IRS reported in May that the agency asked inappropriately probing questions and delayed conservative groups’ applications — in some cases for three years.
Catherine Engelbrecht was an officer in the King Street Patriots, which was seeking status as a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization, and True the Vote, which was seeking status as a 501(c)(3) charity.
Soon after True the Vote began pushing to clear rolls of ineligible voters, Ms. Engelbrecht said, she and her husband faced an occupational safety investigation into their company, an IRS audit of their company, repeated rounds of IRS questions about True the Vote’s activities, and six inquiries from the FBI about the King Street Patriots — including general inquiries and specific questions about someone who attended a group meeting.
“They basically got the full monte — all these agencies with everything she’s involved in,” said Cleta Mitchell, an attorney for True the Vote and counsel to the ActRight Legal Foundation.
After three years of waiting, True The Vote was granted nonprofit status this fall, but the King Street Patriots is still waiting. The group got another round of questions from the IRS in August, Ms. Mitchell said.
Mr. Issa and Mr. Jordan began pressing the FBI for information when former Director Robert S. Mueller III was unable to give any details, just days after Mr. Holder assigned the FBI to investigate. That lack of knowledge struck the congressmen as odd because the IRS story was dominating headlines at the time.
Saying they wanted to be kept in the loop as part of their oversight duties, Mr. Issa and Mr. Jordan sent a letter in September asking for more information on the broad IRS investigation and why the FBI had been looking into True the Vote and the King Street Patriots.
On Oct. 31, the FBI responded with a letter that didn’t mention Ms. Engelbrecht’s situation and gave brief details about the broader IRS investigation, saying Assistant Director Valeria Parlave, who oversees investigations opened by the Washington field office, was in charge, and had 11 special agents and one forensic accountant working for her.
In a follow-up conversation with committee investigators last month, FBI official Monique Kelso again refused to provide documents but said she would make Ms. Parlave, director of the field office, available for a briefing, according to the committee.
When the investigators emailed to follow up, one of her colleagues, Kirk Melquist, said he had run the idea by the Justice Department and was awaiting guidance. In a follow-up conversation Nov. 20, Ms. Kelso rescinded the offer of a briefing, Mr. Issa and Mr. Jordan say.
“The FBI’s withdrawal of its offer to have Ms. Parlave meet with Chairman Jordan, which came after Ms. Kelso admitting to contacting a senior political appointee at the Department of Justice about the proposed meeting, combined with Mr. Melquist’s statement that the FBI was awaiting ‘guidance’ from the department, suggests that senior DOJ officials may have inappropriately interfered,” the congressmen said.
The two lawmakers sent copies of their latest letter to the two top senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee, urging them to give extra scrutiny to Peter Kadzik, one of the Justice Department officials Ms. Kelso informed of the committee’s request for a briefing. Mr. Kadzik is up for a promotion within the Justice Department, and his nomination must pass Senate scrutiny.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Stephen Dinan can be reached at email@example.com.
- Senators deluged by complaints void 2-year-old flood insurance plan before 10-day break
- Obama calls for 'more humane' deportation policy
- Senators reach deal on unemployment benefits
- Boehner invites Pope Francis to address Congress
- Harry Reid: 'I'm not afraid of the Koch brothers'
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By Bob Dole
The industrious island has proved itself worthy of U.S. inclusion
- F-35 secrets now showing up in Chinas stealth fighter
- EXCLUSIVE: FBI blocked in corruption probe involving Sens. Reid, Lee
- U.S.: Malaysia plane's on-board communications purposely shut down
- USS Kidd sent to Indian Ocean after 'indication' of Malaysian jet crash
- Oil rig worker says he saw missing plane go down: report
- EDITORIAL: Lois Lerner's dilemma
- PRUDEN: Sink sank own campaign in Florida special election
- Justice Department refuses info on hundreds of prosecutor misconduct cases
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- College group's diversity event canceled after excluding white people
Chaos as Manhattan building explodes
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again