House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) launched a probe Monday into a D.C. investigation of a conservative judicial activist.
The two Republicans sent a letter to Washington, D.C., Attorney General Brian Schwalb to demand answers on his investigation into Leonard Leo, a conservative judicial activist, and nonprofit organizations that Leo is associated with. Politico reported in August that Schwalb opened the investigation into Leo and two nonprofit groups, but the investigation’s scope was unclear.
They wrote that their respective committees are “concerned about potential infringement on free association and donor privacy.” They accused Schwalb of having “apparent political motivations” for looking into Leo, claiming that other state attorneys general have targeted conservative nonprofits and their donors in the past.
“The Committees are concerned that your office’s investigation may be improper and politically motivated,” the lawmakers wrote. “First, it appears that your office does not have jurisdiction over this matter because Mr. Leo and the organizations with which he is affiliated are, according to publicly available information, based outside of Washington, D.C.”
“Worse yet, the Committees are troubled that your investigation could infringe upon the fundamental rights of donor privacy and free association,” they continued.
Jordan and Comer are asking Schwalb to provide information relating to the investigation on Leo and nonprofit organizations affiliated with Leo, including the 85 Fund and the Federalist Society.
The lawmakers cited a separate report from Politico published in March that suggested Leo financially benefitted from working with political nonprofits that he was affiliated with. About a month later, the progressive watchdog group Campaign for Accountability asked the IRS to look into the nonprofit groups affiliated with Leo.
The lawmakers also pointed to the crime rate in D.C., suggesting that Schwalb should be focused on that rather than Leo.
“There are serious problems occurring in Washington, D.C. that merit your attention, including the 27 percent increase in crime across all crime categories since last year. Contributing to this increase is the alarming rise in crime committed by juvenile offenders,” the lawmakers wrote.
“Instead of using your office’s substantial resources to address these problems, however, your office has reportedly decided to dedicate those resources to a politically motivated probe that creates an unnecessary risk of chilling free speech,” they added.