Special Counsel Weiss accused of smear campaign against IRS whistleblowers

by | May 20, 2024

Lawyers for a pair of IRS whistleblowers who informed Congress of details about the Hunter Biden criminal investigation are calling for an inspector general investigation into Special Counsel David Weiss.

They allege that Weiss “hid and twisted” information, adding to the tension on Capitol Hill regarding Biden family conduct and potential Justice Department politicization.

Empower Oversight, representing IRS special agents Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler, claims that Weiss's team misled the public in a March 11 federal court filing by implying that an unnamed federal agency was investigating the whistleblowers for misconduct. In reality, the “potential investigation(s)” mentioned referred to a probe that the whistleblowers themselves requested, alleging retaliation by the Justice Department and IRS for their disclosures.

Empower Oversight is urging two Justice Department agencies, the Office of Inspector General and the Office of Professional Responsibility, to investigate the conduct of Special Counsel David Weiss's office.

In a letter this week, representatives for IRS whistleblowers Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler requested that the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), an independent whistleblower protection agency, clarify that the two agents are not under investigation.

The March 11 filing by Special Counsel David Weiss’s office  was in opposition to a motion by Hunter Biden’s legal team to dismiss the case. This filing attempted to rebut claims about the influence of whistleblowers but, in doing so, suggested that the whistleblowers were under investigation.

In their response to the motion to dismiss, Special Counsel David Weiss's team stated that Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler “made unsubstantiated claims that prosecutors' decision-making in this investigation was infected by politics.” The response added that the IRS “has taken responsible steps to address Shapley and Ziegler’s conduct” and directed the court to Exhibit 2, which was redacted from public view.

Weiss's team explained the redactions in Exhibit 2 by noting that the “potential investigation(s) may involve allegations of wrongdoing,” and that making these materials public could frustrate the potential investigations.

On May 14, advocates for the IRS whistleblowers wrote a letter to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz and Office of Professional Responsibility Counsel Jeffrey Ragsdale. The letter was signed by Tristan Leavitt, Empower Oversight founder Jason Foster, and attorneys Mark Lytle and Justin Gelfand.

The same day, the four also signed a longer letter to Karen Gorman, acting principal deputy counsel at the Office of Special Counsel (OSC). This letter clarified that the vague reference to investigations in Exhibit 2 was actually about an OSC probe into the IRS and Justice Department initiated by Shapley and Ziegler. In contrast, the Weiss filing misleadingly suggested that the investigation was targeting Shapley and Ziegler.


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