The House oversight committee has asked a lawyer who's helping run the criminal investigation into IRS targeting of tea party groups to testify to Congress next week, seeking to find out where the investigation stands and whether her political leanings have undermined the probe.
Rep. Jim Jordan, chairman of a key oversight subcommittee, sent a letter Tuesday to the lawyer, Barbara Bosserman, requesting her appearance at a Feb. 6 hearing. He gave her until Thursday to decide whether she would voluntarily comply.
"With your history of extensive financial and personal support for the president and the Democratic Party, your involvement in the administration's investigation raises the appearance of a substantial and material conflict of interest," Mr. Jordan, Ohio Republican, said in the letter to Ms. Bosserman, which was seen by The Washington Times.
Ms. Bosserman did not respond to an email request for comment Wednesday morning.
Mr. Jordan and Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the full House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, have said Ms. Bosserman is the lead lawyer on the investigation, though Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. told a Senate committee on Wednesday that she is only a single lawyer on a broader team.
Mr. Holder declined to discuss the status of the investigation with the Senate Judiciary Committee at an oversight hearing Wednesday.
Soon after an internal audit last year revealed the IRS's targeting of conservative and tea party groups for special scrutiny, Mr. Holder ordered a criminal probe of the agency.
Eight months later, the investigation hasn't produced any indictments, though Mr. Holder said the deliberate pace is normal.
Still, Ms. Bosserman's history of sizable campaign donations to President Obama in 2008 and 2012 led Republicans to question whether she was the right person to lead the investigation.
In a reply to a set of letters sent over the past several months from Mr. Jordan and Mr. Issa, a California Republicans, the Justice Department bristled at the accusations of bias, calling the questions about Ms. Bosserman "inappropriate and unfounded."
"Your decision to impugn the integrity of a career attorney raises serious concerns," Principal Deputy Attorney General Peter J. Kadzik wrote on Jan. 24. "Targeting career attorneys in this manner could plainly have a chilling effect on the valid exercise by federal employees of their basic right to participate in the political process."
Mr. Kadzik also characterized Ms. Bosserman as "simply a member of a team" investigating the IRS scandal.
Mr. Jordan, in his letter to Ms. Bosserman, said the Justice Department was wrong to accuse the GOP of "targeting," saying it suggests an equivalency between Mr. Issa and Mr. Jordan on the one hand, and the IRS's targeting of conservative groups on the other hand.
"His deliberate choice of this word not only insults the victims who were truly targeted by the IRS, but it further undermines the integrity of the administration's IRS investigation," Mr. Jordan said.
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