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DOJ’s Inspector General takes heat for allegedly ‘targeting political opponents’

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) at the Justice Department is coming under fire after reports that some of its personnel have an apparent political bias against the targets of their investigations. 

The OIG says its mission is to ‘detect and deter fraud, waste, abuse, and misconduct by conducting objective, independent, and impactful oversight of the Department, its programs, and the conduct of its personnel.’ 

OIG personnel are non-political employees and do not shift with changes to the executive branch. Inspector General Michael Horowitz was confirmed by the Senate in 2012.

However, recent reporting and documents reviewed by Fox News Digital reveal that some OIG personnel, including ones responsible for overseeing investigations into Trump administration political appointees, appear to have partisan bias.

America First Legal (AFL) on Wednesday sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the DOJ to investigate the ‘existence of politically motivated employees in positions that demand impartiality.’ 

‘The Department’s Office of Inspector General itself describes that ‘[i]n light of today’s wide-spread lack of trust and negative views of government, a key facet of the Department’s challenge of strengthening public trust is ensuring that DOJ personnel fulfill their duties without any actual or perceived political influence or partisan consideration,’’ the FOIA request states. 

‘Despite this unambiguous obligation to avoid the appearance of political or partisan considerations, there is evidence that the Office of the Inspector General is deeply infected with partisan actors,’ it says.

According to documents reviewed by Fox News Digital, one OIG attorney, Deborah Falk Zerwitz, has donated 35 times to Democrats or Democrat-linked entities since 2007, totaling $6,466.

Zerwitz is currently overseeing OIG’s investigation into the department’s 2020 probe into deaths in state-run nursing homes in New York, New Jersey, Michigan and Pennsylvania. 

On her X account, Zerwitz ‘liked’ dozens of political posts including disparaging posts about then-Attorney General Bill Barr and Trump appointees, including one post saying all White House lawyers drafting executive orders should be ‘disbarred,’ and one accusing Barr of promoting a ‘myth of unaccountable career prosecutor.’ 

Another post she appeared to have ‘liked’ said, ‘We need to send Donald Trump packing, but we can’t stop there. We need to boot his Republican enablers out of office — at every level of government.’

She also ‘liked’ posts that referenced ‘Trump and his racist homophobic cult members,’ and one that read ‘Attention QANON, MAGAT Fascists,’ and ended with, ‘SO F— OFF.’  She also liked a post that accused Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., of ‘eroding our democracy.’

Jennifer Ramella, another OIG lawyer investigating DOJ’s nursing home death probe, donated 33 times between 2020 and 2022 to the Democratic PAC ActBlue, totaling over $300.

Another is Christina Monta, a former OIG counsel who led the investigation into the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania’s probe into reports of potential issues with a few mail-in ballots at the Luzerne County Board of Elections in 2020.

Monta, according to FEC data, made several contributions to ActBlue and Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s Senate campaign, totaling $1,014.50 between 2019 and 2020.

Monta was counsel in one of the first cases DOJ litigated to allow biological males into women’s bathrooms in 2015. She also joined the DOJ’s challenge of Texas’ voter ID law around the same time.

‘It is imperative that Americans learn whether these views persist within the Department of Justice, certainly meeting the Department’s standard that a ‘matter of widespread and exceptional media interest in which there exist possible questions about the government’s integrity that affect public confidence,’ especially as we approach a Presidential election,’ AFL’s FOIA request states. 

‘It is vital for our democracy and trust in government that those in government with duties to be impartial do not wield their power by targeting political opponents,’ they said. 

A spokesperson for the OIG told Fox News Digital, ‘Consistent with the First Amendment, Citizens United, and federal law, the OIG respects the constitutional rights of its employees, and of all citizens.’

‘The OIG’s work is fact-based and objective, as evidenced by our reports on FISA abuses, Operation Fast and Furious, and decades of other oversight. Our ongoing work meets the same standards,’ the spokesperson said. 

In 2019, the OIG released a report on FISA abuses in the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation and outlined their investigation process: 

‘As part of the standard practice in our reviews, we provided a draft copy of this report to the Department and the FBI to conduct a factual accuracy review. Also consistent with our standard practice, we contacted individuals who were interviewed as part of the review and whose conduct is addressed in this report, and certain other witnesses, to provide them an opportunity to review the portions of the report that pertain to their testimony to the OIG. With limited exceptions, these witnesses availed themselves of this opportunity, and we provided those who did conduct such a review with the opportunity to provide oral or written comments directly to the OIG concerning the portions they reviewed, consistent with rules to protect classified information.’

The Civil Service Reform Act also prohibits OIG from discriminating against employees based on their political affiliations. 

Gene Hamilton, AFL executive director, said in a statement that, ‘if the ‘watchdog’ is a mere partisan bulldog, it does not deserve to exist.’

This post appeared first on FOX NEWS

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