The Justice Department announced Friday that it has no plans to charge former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official Lois Lerner regarding her role in the Tea Party targeting scandal, according to new reports.
Responding to calls this past April by Kevin Brady, (R-Tex), the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman, and Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) to revisit the case, the Justice Department said in a letter that “reopening the criminal investigation would not be appropriate based on the available evidence,” Fox News reports.
The case concerned the IRS’s discriminant treatment of conservative groups during the 2010 and 2012 elections. At the time, Lerner headed the processing division of the IRS, which approves or declines tax-exemption applications.
An inspector general’s report in 2013 found that the IRS gave conservative groups, including those associated with the Tea Party, increased scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status, delaying applications for extended time periods of months and years, and even asking improper questions.
Lerner, along with other leaders in the agency, resigned or retired after the scandal broke, though she says she did nothing wrong.
In 2014, the Ways and Means Committee referred Lerner to the Justice Department, saying she may have violated the constitutional rights of conservative groups, misled investigators and risked exposing confidential taxpayer information.
After an investigation culminating in 2015, the Obama Justice Department said no one at the IRS would be prosecuted as they had “found no evidence that any IRS official acted based on political, discriminatory, corrupt or other inappropriate motives that would support a criminal prosecution.”
Under the new leadership of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Republican Congressmen were hoping the Justice Department would take a “fresh look” at the case. Friday, Brady expressed his disappointment in their decision not to pursue it.
“This is a terrible decision,” Brady said. “It sends the message that the same legal, ethical, and constitutional standards we all live by do not apply to Washington political appointees.”
Brady said appointees “will now have the green light to target Americans for their political beliefs and mislead investigators without ever being held accountable for their lawlessness.”
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