The Obama Administration was rattled a few years ago when the IRS was accused of targeting conservative groups and running out the clock on nonprofit applications. At the heart of the scandal was IRS executive Lois Lerner, who was accused of mishandling nonprofit applications.
Lerner was forced to resign in 2013, but the investigation continued for more than two years. The Justice Department’s investigation came to a close in October of last year with the announcement that Lerner would face no charges.
The DOJ probe found “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,” says Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik. Ironically, Lerner’s experience parallels the Hillary Clinton email scandal in many ways:
• Illegal action is clear
• State Department drags its feet
• The accused escapes scot-free
Darrell Issa (R-CA) rightly argues that the DOJ’s noncommittal 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,” says Issa. “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 inquiries.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan found the DOJ’s decision “disappointing” but “predictable.” He promised that the Ways and Means Committee would continue the investigation “to find the answers and hold the IRS accountable for its actions.”
As reported by Newsmax this month, “New documents show former IRS worker Lois Lerner likely broke the law when she transferred 1.25 million pages of tax returns in 2010 to the Department of Justice.”
Tax returns contain sensitive information and, in most cases, sharing them is against the law. Lerner’s massive data transfer was definitely illegal, reports National Review.
“It took an organization over 50 months of investigation and multiple lawsuits to get clarity on the IRS’s own compliance with the rules it enforces against others,” complains Dan Epstein, former attorney and current director of the Cause of Action Institute.
“The IRS, in the midst of its political targeting of groups engaged in policy advocacy, was engaged in the disclosure of millions of records aimed at ginning up prosecutions of these groups without going through the legally required channels.”