NPR logo Justice Department Says No Criminal Charges In IRS-Tea Party Investigation

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Justice Department Says No Criminal Charges In IRS-Tea Party Investigation

The U.S. Department of Justice said Friday that it did not find evidence to warrant criminal charges over the Internal Revenue Service's improper targeting of the Tea Party and other conservative groups in 2010 through 2013.

The scandal led to a barrage of congressional hearings and an overhaul of IRS management, which forced out Commissioner Lois Lerner.

"The IRS mishandled the processing of tax-exempt applications in a manner that disproportionately impacted applicants affiliated with the Tea Party and similar groups," Assistant Attorney General Pater Kadzik said in a letter to lawmakers. "However, ineffective management is not a crime."

NPR's Peter Overby reports for the Newscast unit:

"Republicans alleged that the IRS targeted Tea Party and other conservative groups as they sought tax-exempt status as 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations. 501(c)(4)s are a fast-growing category of political groups that can keep their donors secret.

"Now, the Justice Department has told Congress it found no evidence of criminal intent at the IRS. It said ineffective management is not a crime. DOJ faulted one official, Lois Lerner, for poor decision-making, but said her personal political views were not a factor.

"Republican Congressman Darrell Issa who tried to have Lerner cited for contempt of Congress called the findings "a low point of accountability for the administration."

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, echoed Issa's condemnation in a statement:

"The lack of accountability for the targeting scandal will hit a lot of Americans as plain wrong," he said. "Anybody who deals with the IRS is entitled to the expectation that IRS employees respect taxpayer rights, and that those employees are well aware of those rights. None of that was true in the targeting scandal, yet the responsible IRS employees, including Lois Lerner and her bosses, were allowed to move on. Where was the IRS commissioner while the agency was treating conservative groups so poorly?"

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