The Treasury Department is investigating whether politics motivated an IRS audit of Paula Jones, who has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against President Clinton, her lawyers said late Tuesday.
Jones and her husband were interviewed for two hours Tuesday night by officials representing the inspector general of the Treasury Department, lawyer Donovan Campbell said. Details of that meeting were not released because of confidentiality laws.
“Tonight we learned for the first time that the inherent impetus for the beginning of this Treasury Department review came directly from Congress, certain elements in Congress,” he said without elaborating.
Speaking to reporters in Dallas, Clinton lawyer Robert Bennett speculated that the investigation was initiated by those in Congress “who want to humiliate the president.”
“I wish somebody pressed (Campbell) on who those people are. I’m sure we’ll find that those people are the same people who have been trying to beat up on President Clinton since the beginning.”
In Washington, Treasury Department spokeswoman Susan Sallet said the agency had no comment. When it received a letter from members of Congress raising questions about the audit last fall, the department said any investigation would be conducted by its inspector general’s office.
After Paula and Stephen Jones received a letter in September saying their tax returns would be audited by the Internal Revenue Service, the White House denied it had singled them out for an audit.
The notice came four days after her previous attorneys withdrew from the sexual harassment case because she refused to accept a reported $700,000 settlement.
“It would be fair to say that the timing concerns us,” said Brent C. Perry, tax attorney for Jones.
In a statement distributed afterward, Jones said: “We’re very pleased that the Treasury Department is responsible and responsive enough to conduct an official examination of the very suspect circumstances surrounding the initiation of this tax audit.”