Congressional Accountability Project
1611 Connecticut Ave. NW Suite 3A
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 296-2787
fax (202) 833-2406

July 16, 1998

H. Marshall Jarrett, Counsel
Office of Professional Responsibility
U.S. Department of Justice
Room 4304
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Mr. Jarrett:

This letter constitutes a formal request for a review by the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) of two decisions by the Justice Department's Tax Division and Public Integrity Section which have been called into question by former Justice Department officials and renowned tax experts. These decisions denied two Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requests to authorize a grand jury to investigate whether U.S. Senator Carol Moseley-Braun (D-IL) illegally converted campaign funds to personal use, and violated criminal tax laws.

In particular, OPR should determine whether any improper political interference dissuaded the Tax Division and its Director, Loretta Argrett, or any of her colleagues, or the Public Integrity Section, from authorizing a grand jury investigation of Senator Moseley-Braun. OPR should determine whether any Justice Department official handling Senator Moseley-Braun's case has engaged in misconduct involving violation of any standard imposed by law, applicable rules of professional conduct, or Justice Departmental policy.

On July 12, 1998, WBBM/TV-News aired a report suggesting that Senator Moseley-Braun may have converted campaign funds to personal use, and failed to pay taxes on those funds. According to the transcript of that report,

According to Roll Call, it is rare for the Justice Department's Tax Division to deny the IRS a grand jury authorization. Roll Call polled tax experts about these Justice Department decisions: The WBBM/TV-News report quotes two tax law experts, Royal Martin and Dennis Czurylo, who argue that it is unusual for the Justice Department to deny such a request by the IRS.
* * *
These news reports, and the implication of possible political interference with the investigation of Senator Moseley-Braun, are disturbing. We strongly urge OPR to investigate whether any improper political intervention did, in fact, occur. OPR should determine whether, in the Justice Department's handling of these matters regarding Senator Moseley-Braun, there has been misconduct involving violation of any standard imposed by law, applicable rules of professional conduct, or Justice Departmental policy. Furthermore, the public deserves a full report explaining on what grounds the Justice Department refused the IRS requests for grand jury authorization.

The United States Constitution is grounded in the notion of the "rule of law." The aspiration is that rulers and the ruled should face equal justice before the law, and that no person should be above the law. OPR should determine whether or not that aspiration has been met regarding the investigation of Senator Moseley-Braun, and, if not, who is to blame.

Sincerely,
 

Gary Ruskin
Director


Endnotes

1. Carol Marin, transcript of news broadcast. WBBM/TV-News, 12 July 1998. Attachment #1 also includes Carol Marin, transcript of news broadcast. WBBM/TV-News, 13 July 1998. Mary Jacoby, "FEC Questioned Personal Expenses From 1992 Campaign." Roll Call, 16 July 1998. Mike Dorning and Marla Donato, "Federal Prosecutors Rejected IRS Probe of Moseley-Braun in '95." Chicago Tribune, 13 July 1998. Lynn Sweet, "IRS Request for Probe of Senator Was Denied." Chicago Sun-Times, 13 July 1998. "Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun Learns of 1995 IRS Investigation." Associated Press, 13 July 1998.

2. Damon Chappie and Mary Jacoby, "Justice Department Rulings Questioned." Roll Call, 16 July 1998. See Attachment #2.

3. Carol Marin, transcript of news broadcast. WBBM/TV-News, 12 July 1998. Formatting changed from original to clarify who is speaking.