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.”