The IRS’s Lawyer

by Eliana Johnson

The pro-Israel group Z Street sued the IRS for viewpoint discrimination in 2010, and its case is proceeding in court. I wrote last month about the Justice Department lawyer representing the IRS in the case: He happens to be a former employee of Lois Lerner, and to have been involved with the sort of targeting that Z Street alleges violated its constitutional rights.

I quoted a former Justice Department prosecutor who was troubled by the connection — he said it could violate Washington, D.C.’s rules of professional conduct for lawyers in a number of ways, including a rule that prevents lawyers from arguing cases in which they could be called as a witness. 

The Wall Street Journal reports today that the Justice Department has withdrawn the lawyer, Andrew Strelka, as the IRS’ counsel of record on the Z Street case and two others involving the agency’s alleged discrimination against right-leaning groups. The Justice Department told the Journal only that “it is not unusual for attorney assignments to change during the course of litigation.” 

The Journal editorializes: ”If Mr. Strelka had personal knowledge of the processing of tax-exempt applications for groups like Z Street while he was assigned to the IRS, he should have recused himself from handling the case at Justice.” 

Read the whole thing here