Notwithstanding a two-year investigation which lay bare “substantial mismanagement, poor judgement and institutional inertia,” the Department of Justice will bring no charges against Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees scrutinized for allegedly targeting conservative tax-exempt groups.
In closing the Justice Department’s investigation, Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik wrote to Congress on Friday:
“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, But poor management is not a crime.”
Avoiding further legal jeopardy was Lois Lerner, the one-time Director of the Exempt Organizations Unit at IRS and at the center of controversy. Lerner gained prominence when she invoked her 5th Amendment privilege and refused to testify regarding her role in dilatory tactics to slow tax-exempt status for Tea Party groups.
Although a House vote to hold Lerner in Contempt of Congress was later explored by the Justice Department, the House leadership received a letter from the U.S. Attorney’s office stating Lerner had not waived her right to self-incrimination and her case would not be referred to a grand jury.
A Justice Department probe interviewed over 100 individuals and amassed a trove of over one-million documents. Their conclusions illustrated systemic incompetence, but no criminal wrongdoing.
The Obama Justice Department declared no wrongdoing.
Only a crackpot, or a fanatic postmodernist, would dare defy the abundance of evidence produced by e-mail exchanges within the IRS’s Exempt Organization Unit and conclude there was no effort to target conservative groups venturing for tax-exempt status.
The IRS has a long, rich history of being abused by the White House.
Dating back to FDR, the IRS has frequently been used as an instrument of political retaliation: FDR was known to target newspaper publishers who wrote critical analysis of his administration; John Kennedy aimed the IRS at conservative groups’ tax-exempt status and steel companies; President Nixon’s objectives were equally as widespread; and Bill Clinton marked critics of his administration for audits.
By refusing further study, the Justice Department is allowing employees at the IRS to abdicate their responsibilities to act impartially when confronted with groups which clutch ideology dissimilar to the occupant of the White House.
With a historical precedent available and compelling evidence in the Lerner case, this smacks of an all-too politicized Justice Department. If this is the way Obama’s DOJ operates, Hillary Clinton will demand the same protection.
[Wall Street Journal] [LFB.org] [Photo courtesy CBS News]