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An IG’s Political Journey

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Inspectors general strive to maintain strict political neutrality, even though they’re appointed by presidents of one party or the other.

So it was eye-opening on Thursday to hear J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, at a disputatious House oversight hearing on the scandal at the Internal Revenue Service, describe his political evolution.

The George W. Bush appointee was addressing accusations from Democrats that his May audit of the tax agency’s improper handling of Tea Party-like groups’ applications for tax-exempt status had left out information on liberal or progressive groups among those singled out for extra scrutiny.

“What they may not know is that I was a page at the 1980 Democratic convention, that I was in the Howard University Democrats,” said George, a 25-year veteran of government. “That was before I saw the light in the 1980s and joined the staff of Bob Dole.”

Charlie Clark joined Government Executive in the fall of 2009. He has been on staff at The Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly, National Journal, Time-Life Books, Tax Analysts, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and the National Center on Education and the Economy. He has written or edited online news, daily news stories, long features, wire copy, magazines, books and organizational media strategies.

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