Another stunning blow for Republican Conspiracy theorists as the Dept. of Justices closes its 2-year Tea Party IRS probe.
The Department of Justice notified members of Congress that it is closing its two-year investigation into allegations the IRS improperly targeted the Tea Party and other conservative groups for improper scrutiny.
Peter J. Kadzik, the Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs, sent a letter to Congress advising that the Dept. of Justice was declining to press charges against Lois Lerner, the director of the Exempt Organizations Unit of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, and a central figure in the 2013 IRS targeting controversy. Further, there would be no charges against any IRS official.
“We found no evidence that any IRS official acted based on political, discriminatory, corrupt, or other inappropriate motives that would support a criminal prosecution,” Kadzik said. “We also found no evidence that any official involved in the handling of tax-exempt applications or IRS leadership attempted to obstruct justice. Based on the evidence developed in this investigation and the recommendation of experienced career prosecutors and supervising attorneys at the department, we are closing our investigation and will not seek any criminal charges.”
Kadzik went on to explain that: “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,” adding:”But poor management is not a crime. We found no evidence that that any IRS official acted based on political discriminatory, corrupt or other inappropriate motives that would support a criminal prosecution.”
Lerner’s lawyers said they were “gratified but not surprised by today’s news.”
“Anyone who takes a serious and impartial look at the facts would reach the same conclusion as the Justice Department,” said attorney Paul Hynes. “Ms. Lerner is pleased to have this matter finally resolved and looks forward to moving forward with her life.”
Democrats welcomed the announcement. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, released a statement:
Today, the Justice Department confirmed the same conclusions we had years ago. Over the past five years, Republicans in the House of Representatives have squandered literally tens of millions of dollars going down all kinds of investigative rabbit holes — IRS, Planned Parenthood, Benghazi — with absolutely no evidence of illegal activity.
Darrell Issa (R-CA), the former House Oversight Committee chairman, issued a statement saying the decision gives the impression that “government officials are above the law.”
The Justice Department’s decision to close the IRS targeting investigation without a single charge or prosecution is a low point of accountability in an Administration that is better known for punishing whistleblowers than the abuse and misconduct they expose. After stating that their investigation confirms that Tea Party and conservative groups were improperly targeted, they dismiss it merely as a byproduct of gross mismanagement and incompetence – ignoring volumes of evidence in the public record and efforts to obstruct legitimate inquires.
Americans’ faith in government and in the IRS in particular, has been greatly eroded by an Administration that when confronted with instances of misconduct appears complicit in shielding those involved from responsibility. 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.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the chairman of Ways and Means Committee and outgoing House Speaker John Boehner’s likely successor, called the announcement “predictable,” adding that his committee will continue its investigation into the IRS’s actions.
“Through these investigations we have uncovered serious and unprecedented actions taken by the most senior IRS official in charge of the non-profit unit, Lois Lerner, to deprive conservative organizations of their constitutional rights,” Ryan said in a statement, adding: “Despite the DOJ closing its investigation, the Ways and Means Committee will continue to find answers and hold the IRS accountable for its actions.”