The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Friday that Lois Lerner, and other IRS officials involved in targeting conservative groups’ tax exempt applications, will not have criminal charges filed against them.
A letter from the DOJ to House Judiciary Committee leaders said the investigation into Lerner and other IRS officials will be closed because the department found no evidence to support a criminal prosecution, reports the Washington Post.
“Our investigation uncovered substantial evidence of mismanagement, poor judgment and institutional inertia, leading to the belief by many tax-exempt applicants that the IRS targeted them based on their political viewpoints,” Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Peter J. Kadzik wrote in a letter to House Judiciary chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte and ranking member Rep. John Conyers Jr.
“But poor management is not a crime,” Kadzik continued. “We found no evidence that any IRS official acted on political, discriminatory, corrupt, or other inappropriate motives that would support a criminal prosecution.”
Kadzik said the DOJ, the FBI, and the Treasury Department performed an “exhaustive probe” but determined that neither Lerner nor other IRS officials attempted to obstruct justice.
In a statement responding to the DOJ, Goodlatte said, “At every turn President Obama and administration officials have repeatedly and publicly undermined the investigation into the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups yet today’s announcement from the Department of Justice is still very disturbing.”
The chairman continued:
I repeatedly called on then Attorney General Holder to appoint a Special Counsel to conduct the investigation to ensure a fair and thorough process but instead the investigation was led by a loyal Democratic donor. Even as far back as last year unnamed DOJ officials leaked information to the media suggesting that the Department did not plan to file criminal charges over the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups.
The Department of Justice investigation did conclude that the actions of IRS personnel involved in the scandal was “disquieting” and in that we all agree. However, the American people should be concerned that this kind of politicization continues to go unchecked by this Administration and a Justice Department charged with pursuing wrongdoing. You can be sure this will be a major issue during the Committee’s DOJ oversight hearing with Attorney General Lynch next week.
According to Fox News, Rep. Darrell Issa, who chaired the House Oversight Committee during the hearings that focused on Lerner and the other IRS officials’ activities, said the DOJ’s announcement marks a “low point of accountability” for the Obama administration.
“Giving Lois Lerner a free pass only reinforces the idea that government officials are above the law and that there is no consequence for wrongdoing,” he said.
Democrats, like Rep. Elijah Cummings, chalked up the DOJ announcement as evidence of Republicans’ desire to spend more taxpayer money on witch hunts and “all kinds of investigative rabbit holes.”
When an Inspector General’s audit found that IRS agents had targeted Tea Party and other conservative groups during the 2010 and 2012 elections in their applications for tax-exempt status, a firestorm ensued. Multiple investigations by congressional committees focused primarily on Lerner’s part in the activities, with investigators discovering her emails that denigrated Republicans. Subsequently, the House voted to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress in 2014 following her refusal to answer the Oversight Committee’s questions.
In response to the DOJ’s announcement, Tea Party Patriots CEO and co-founder Jenny Beth Martin said, “By failing to indict Lois Lerner, the Obama Justice Department – or, should we say, the Obama Injustice Department – is making a mockery of this ‘investigation,’ when countless American citizens, by Ms. Lerner’s own admission, were persecuted by the Internal Revenue Service.”
“This is a woman, after all, who looked into the camera at a national television audience and directly at a congressional committee and refused to answer their questions for fear of incriminating herself,” Martin continued in her statement. “This is just the latest evidence that the Justice Department, whether under Eric Holder or Loretta Lynch, has simply become the political hatchet-men for President Obama and his cronies throughout the administration.”
Mark Meckler, co-founder of the Tea Party movement and president of Citizens for Self Governance—a group that continues its class lawsuit against the IRS—said, “Lois Lerner made an entire career out of attacking conservatives and Christians starting with her time at the FEC. There is a reason the majority of Americans fear their government, and Lerner is the poster child for that reason.”
Meckler added that, via the DOJ’s decision not to file charges, Lerner “has been rewarded for abusing her government positions to attack her fellow citizens. And until the Department of Injustice once again becomes the Department of Justice, Americans will live in fear.”
“It’s no wonder why so many Americans have had it with Washington and the elite political class who can get away with something like this,” he said. “We will continue to press our case in the courts to bring justice and to defend or protect our First Amendment rights and to preserve our democratic republic.”