Washington, D.C. – Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) today introduced a resolution (H.Res. 565) calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a Special Counsel to investigate the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) targeting of conservative groups. Earlier this year, 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 spearhead the investigation. Additionally, over the last several months the Administration, including President Obama himself, has publicly undermined the integrity of the Justice Department’s investigation. In light of this conflict of interest, the apparent criminal activity by Lois Lerner outlined by the Ways and Means Committee’s referral letter to DOJ, and the ongoing disclosure of internal communications showing potentially unlawful conduct by Executive Branch personnel, the removal of the investigation from the normal process is warranted and the appointment of a Special Counsel is in the public’s best interest.
Original cosponsors of the resolution include House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), and Congressman Charles Boustany (R-La.). Below are statements from Rep. Jim Jordan and the six original cosponsors on today’s introduction of the resolution.
Rep. Jim Jordan: “We need this Special Counsel to help us get to the truth because the so-called investigation by the Justice Department has been a joke. The current investigation has no credibility because it is being headed by a max-out donor who is financially invested in the President’s success.
“The Attorney General says he won’t share any information with Congress about the investigation, but looked the other way when information was leaked to the media signaling that no one would face criminal charges. This resolution calls for a real investigation by an unbiased investigator to get to the truth and hold those responsible for this illegal targeting accountable for their actions.”
Chairman Goodlatte: “Over a year has passed since we first learned that the IRS had been singling out certain conservative groups for further review as they applied for tax exempt status and today no one has yet been held accountable for this political plan to silence the voices of groups representing millions of Americans. Conservative groups across the nation, including groups in the Sixth District of Virginia, were impacted by this targeting, resulting in lengthy paperwork requirements, overly burdensome information requests, and lengthy, unwarranted delays in their applications.
“I find it disturbing that Attorney General Holder has appointed a political supporter and donor of President Obama’s presidential campaign to lead the effort to investigate this scandal and that the President and Administration officials have publicly undermined the investigation on multiple occasions. These actions have created a conflict of interest which has undermined both the integrity of the investigation and the American people’s confidence in the Justice Department’s ability to get to the bottom of this scandal without spinning or covering up the facts. To restore Americans’ trust in the investigation and hold those accountable for targeting Americans for their political beliefs, Attorney General Holder should immediately appoint an independent Special Counsel to probe this unsettling issue.”
Chairman Issa: “Congressional investigations into the IRS targeting scandal have uncovered evidence of serious criminal activity, which must be resolved according to the law. Unfortunately, the Department of Justice’s current investigation has lost credibility and public confidence. Appointing a Special Counsel is a necessary step to restore impartiality to a case that requires it. The person Attorney General Holder appoints must be someone beyond the Administration’s own political circle, whose professional independence and political disinterest is beyond reproach.”
Chairman Camp: “After almost a year of investigating the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups, the Ways and Means Committee found that Lois Lerner likely violated multiple criminal statutes. The Department of Justice has a duty to pursue the wrongdoing the Committee laid out in its criminal referral letter. We must hold the IRS accountable so this powerful agency cannot be used as a tool to target and harass Americans for their political beliefs. I have serious concerns that the Department of Justice has brushed aside this investigation and will not pursue Lerner for the wrongdoing she committed. Therefore, DOJ must appoint a Special Counsel, so we can have an independent review of what really happened at the IRS.”
Rep. Gowdy: “Current law provides Special Counsel should be appointed in extraordinary cases where it serves the public interest. I cannot think of anything more extraordinary than targeting Americans simply for having a certain ideology, and it is most assuredly in the public interest to protect our freedom of speech.
“Americans need to have confidence in not only the result of the investigation, but also the process, and Ms. Bosserman’s conclusions are going to be judged against the backdrop of her political activism – that’s just a fact. Moreover the President himself, for whom Attorney General works and to whom Ms. Bosserman made generous donations, prejudged the outcome of the investigation by concluding there was not a ‘smidgen of corruption.’ The Attorney General has the opportunity to ensure the integrity of this investigation and appoint someone from outside the DOJ. Truly independent prosecutors do not take their marching orders from Presidents, governors or anyone else except Lady Justice. Americans deserve no less.”
Rep. Chaffetz: “The DOJ has shown its unwillingness to take this investigation seriously. Given the behavior uncovered at the IRS – such as political targeting and refusal to comply with subpoenas – those responsible must be held accountable. A Special Counsel is the only way to ensure a thorough, nonpartisan investigation occurs and the American people can be presented with the truth.”
Rep. Boustany: “It’s time for the federal government to find answers on Lois Lerner and the Internal Revenue Service’s role in targeting conservative nonprofit groups. This resolution calls on the Attorney General to put the law above all else, including his own politics. That’s a simple ask for the most senior law enforcement official in the nation.”
Background: Under current law, the Attorney General is able to appoint a Special Counsel when he or she determines that the criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted and that 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. Additionally, the Attorney General is able to appoint a Special Counsel when under the circumstances it would be in the public interest to appoint an outside Special Counsel to assume responsibility for the matter.