WASHINGTON — “It appears that the FBI is in the pocket of the Department of Justice and the White House.”
That’s how attorney Cleta Mitchell described to WND the news that the FBI doesn’t plan to file criminal charges against anyone at the IRS for targeting conservative groups.
Mitchell has represented about a dozen conservative groups that were subjected to dubious, invasive and extra scrutiny by the IRS while applying for tax-exempt status.
She expressed a sarcastic skepticism that the Justice Department would ever fully investigate the IRS.
“To quote Faye Dunaway in the last scene in ‘Chinatown,’ when she yells at Jack Nicholson ‘… he OWNS the police.’”
“Therein lies the problem,” concluded the high-powered Washington attorney.
Tea-party advocates are upset the FBI does not seem interested in getting the story from the victims, only the purported victimizers.
“I can confirm that the FBI has not contacted me, any of my clients, or any other organizations who were victimized by the IRS,” Mitchell told WND.
“Some investigation,” she wryly added.
That was the identical experience of perhaps the most powerful person in the conservative grassroots movement, Jenny Beth Martin, president and co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, an umbrella organization supporting thousands of local organizations and millions of members.
“It’s amazing that this is the result of the supposed investigation,” she told WND. “The FBI never once contacted us. They never contacted any of our attorneys.”
“Tea Party Patriots and I are in touch with locals leaders around the country every single day – none of those people were contacted by the FBI,” said an exasperated and incredulous Martin.
Despite evidence from the Treasury Department that the IRS targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny, law-enforcement officials leaked word to the Wall Street Journal that investigators didn’t find the kind of political bias or “enemy hunting” that would amount to a violation of criminal law.
“What kind of investigation is this – where you don’t even talk to and interview the people who were victimized in the crime?” wondered Martin.
WND asked her, as far as you can tell, is there actually an investigation?
“I never saw an investigation,” she said. “If there was, they were not talking to the people who were most affected. We were never contacted, and I’ve heard of no one who has been contacted.”
That echoed what Mitchell told the Wall Street Journal.
“As far as I can tell, nobody has actually done an investigation. This has been a big, bureaucratic, former-Soviet-Union-type investigation, which means that there was no investigation,” she said. “This is a deplorable abuse of the public trust, but I am not surprised.”
Sources told the paper the FBI discovered a mismanaged bureaucracy at the IRS merely bungled enforcement rules about tax-exemption applications it didn’t understand.
However, the evidence points to a much greater targeting of conservative groups than progressive organizations.
The audit of the targeting practice by Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) found only “30 percent of the organizations we identified with the words ‘progress’ or ‘progressive’ in their names were processed as potential political cases.”
“In comparison, our audit found that 100 percent of the tax-exempt applications with tea party, patriots, or 9/12 in their names were processed as potential political cases during the time frame of our audit.”
The IRS even admitted that conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status were inappropriately given close scrutiny between May 2010 and May 2012, which delayed approvals for months, and sometimes years.
“The evidence shows us that conservative groups were not only flagged, but targeted and abused by the IRS,” said Sarah Swinehart, spokeswoman for the House Ways and Means Committee.
The American Center for Law and Justice, or ACLJ, which represents 41 organizations in a federal lawsuit against the IRS, said the investigation is nothing more than a “sham” designed to protect those responsible.
“From Day 1, it was apparent the Obama administration was never really interested in getting to the truth. This latest revelation directly conflicts with the facts and evidence in our case – that our clients were deliberately singled out and targeted because of their conservative political beliefs.” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ.
After seven months, the FBI actually did contact the ACLJ late in December requesting interviews with several of their clients. But just days ago, the ACLJ said it would re-evaluate that request after it was revealed that a top Obama supporter in the Department of Justice was named to head-up the criminal investigation.
“The appointment of Barbara Bosserman – a major political donor – to oversee the criminal probe is a significant conflict of interest,” said Sekulow. “What’s amazing is that her short tenure at the helm – just a matter of days – apparently was long enough to conclude no criminal charges will be filed against those responsible for the targeting scheme.”
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, released a statement that was also critical of the appointment of Bosserman, because “congressional investigators independently discovered that a high-dollar contributor to the Obama administration failed to recuse herself.”
“These revelations further undermine the credibility of the Attorney General Holder and the Justice Department under his leadership. Given the circumstances, there is little reason for the American people to have confidence in this investigation,” they concluded.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, was as incredulous as anyone over the news.
“How can the Department of Justice say that no charges will be filed when its investigation into the targeting of conservative groups isn’t finished?”
Follow Garth Kant on Twitter @DCgarth