DOJ's Office of Inspector General under fire for alleged politically motivated cases

A watchdog group is calling for an investigation into potential partisan influence within the Office of Inspector General, citing employee donations and social media activity.

DOJ's Office of Inspector General under fire for alleged politically motivated cases
AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana
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The Justice Department's Office of Inspector General (OIG) is facing scrutiny over allegations that its personnel have exhibited political bias against their political opponents and allowed for their personal biases to get in the way of their investigations. 

The OIG, tasked with conducting objective and independent oversight of the department, is now under fire as documents reviewed by Fox News suggest that certain employees, including those overseeing investigations into Trump administration appointees, appear to have partisan leanings.

America First Legal (AFL), a watchdog group, has submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the DOJ, urging an investigation into the "existence of politically motivated employees in positions that demand impartiality." The request cites evidence that the OIG may be "deeply infected with partisan actors," despite its obligation to avoid even the appearance of political or partisan considerations.

According to the reviewed documents, OIG attorney Deborah Falk Zerwitz has made 35 donations totaling $6,466 to Democrats or Democrat-linked entities since 2007. Zerwitz, currently overseeing the OIG's investigation into the department's 2020 probe of nursing home deaths in several states, has also "liked" dozens of politically charged posts on social media, including those disparaging former Attorney General Bill Barr and Trump appointees.

Another OIG lawyer, Jennifer Ramella, who is also involved in the nursing home death probe, has made 33 donations to the Democratic PAC ActBlue between 2020 and 2022, totaling over $300. Additionally, former OIG counsel Christina Monta, who led the investigation into a Pennsylvania U.S. Attorney's Office probe of mail-in ballot issues in 2020, made several contributions to ActBlue and Sen. Elizabeth Warren's Senate campaign, amounting to $1,014.50 between 2019 and 2020.

AFL's executive director, Gene Hamilton, emphasized the importance of impartiality within the OIG, stating that "if the 'watchdog' is a mere partisan bulldog, it does not deserve to exist." The OIG spokesperson defended the office's work as "fact-based and objective," citing their reports on FISA abuses and Operation Fast and Furious as evidence of their impartiality. The spokesperson also noted that the OIG respects the constitutional rights of its employees, in line with the First Amendment, Citizens United, and federal law.

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