June 14 2013

How Many Republican Attorneys? IRS, Two. Department of Education, Zero.

Vicki E. Alger

Pepperdine University School of Law associate professor Robert Anderson recently conducted an analysis of Federal Election Commission data and found that overwhelmingly lawyers working in 22 federal agencies, departments, and related entities contributed to the Obama campaign. Fully 100 percent lawyers working at the U.S. Department of Education, the U.N., and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) contributed to Obama’s re-election—that’s more than the Labor Department, where a whole 3 percent of attorneys contributed to Romney’s campaign, and even the IRS, where 5 percent contributed to Romney. As Anderson explains:

The data show, however, that the partisanship of the lawyers in the IRS is not unsual or even particularly extreme among federal agencies. In fact, the lawyers in every single federal government agency--from the Department of Education to the Department of Defense--contributed overwhelmingly to Obama compared to Romney. …

The IRS is near the top in terms of partisanship, but does not stand out as being markedly different from the other agencies. Some agencies, such as the Department of Education and the NLRB, did not have a single lawyer who contributed to Mitt Romney, even though dozens contributed to Barack Obama. The Department of Justice had the largest number of lawyer contributors of any federal agency, and 84% of those employees contributed to Obama.

The political contribution numbers of government lawyers show that the IRS controversy is really a symptom of a larger disease--the rule by career bureaucrat lawyers. Lawyers as a group are not politically representative of the country as a whole, and neither are government employees, so the combination of the two of them creates a dramatic mismatch with the bulk of America. The result of the mismatch is that government agencies lack the political diversity that is necessary to effectively represent the American people….

The IRS inquiry, rather than focusing narrowly on "who knew what" within the agency, should lead to a top-to-bottom rethinking of who's doing the administration in the modern bureaucratic administrative state.

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