Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives today approved by a vote of 250-168 a resolution (H.Res. 565) authored by Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a Special Counsel to investigate the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) targeting of conservative groups. Over a year has passed since the public first learned about the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups and today no one has yet been held accountable for these apparent criminal actions.

Under current law, the Attorney General is required to appoint a Special Counsel when he or she determines that the criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted. Specifically, the Attorney General is required to appoint a Special Counsel when the investigation or prosecution of that person or matter by a United States Attorney’s Office or litigating Division of the Department of Justice would present a conflict of interest for the Department or other extraordinary circumstances, and when under the circumstances it would be in the public interest to appoint an outside Special Counsel to assume responsibility for the matter.

In light of this, the removal of the IRS investigation from the normal process at the Justice Department is warranted and the appointment of a Special Counsel by the Attorney General is in the public’s best interest for several reasons. First, there is an apparent conflict of interest in the current investigation since Attorney General Holder appointed a Justice Department attorney who donated thousands of dollars to President Obama’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee to lead the investigation.  Second, over the last several months Obama Administration officials, including the President himself, have undermined the integrity of the Justice Department’s investigation by publicly judging the outcome of the investigation before the investigation was completed. And third, further investigation of the matter is warranted due to the apparent criminal activity by Lois Lerner, as outlined by the Ways and Means referral letter to Attorney General Holder, and the ongoing disclosure of internal communications showing potentially unlawful conduct by Executive Branch personnel.

Below are statements from Congressman Jim Jordan and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), an original cosponsor of H.Res. 565, on today’s passage of the resolution.

Congressman Jim Jordan: “I applaud my colleagues for taking the bold step of calling for the appointment of a fair and impartial Special Counsel to help us get to the truth in the IRS targeting scandal.   The Justice Department’s current investigation, being led by one of the President’s maxed-out donors, has no credibility.

“This IRS scandal represents an attack on the constitutional rights of everyday Americans.  That is why we must fight so hard and use every tool at our disposal to get to the truth. The First Amendment protects the right of every American to speak out against their government.  This scandal has had a chilling effect on that fundamental right.  People deserve to know that their government will never punish them because of their political beliefs.  I urge the President and Attorney General to join the House in taking the bold action needed to restore the confidence the American people deserve.”

Chairman Goodlatte: “Attorney General Holder’s appointment of a loyal Democratic donor to spearhead the investigation of the IRS’s political targeting scandal, as well as the Administration’s repeated efforts to undermine the investigation, make a mockery of our justice system and show the Administration’s lack of desire to get to the bottom of this scandal. There’s a clear conflict of interest in the current sham of an investigation and a Special Counsel is needed so that Americans can be confident of the process and the conclusions reached by the investigators. I am pleased the House approved this resolution today and I urge the Attorney General to quickly appoint a Special Counsel so that we can hold those accountable for this political plan to silence the voices of groups representing millions of Americans.”

Joining Congressman Jordan and Chairman Goodlatte in introducing H.Res. 565 were Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), and Congressman Charles Boustany (R-La.). H.Res. 565 was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.