The Justice Department is facing criticism over what some are calling a “sham” of an investigation into the IRS scandal involving the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups. While some assert that the Justice Department should not be pursuing charges against the IRS after an investigation allegedly found no evidence, others are stating that the investigation has been nothing more than a façade.
The scandal involves the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division of the IRS openly targeting Tea Party and other conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organization status between 2010 and 2012. Those groups faced additional audits and scrutiny by the agency, above and beyond what liberal groups received. The audits cost the organizations tens of thousands of dollars and thousands of employee hours, and ultimately delayed the groups from receiving tax-exempt status.
E-mails obtained by National Review indicate that the IRS was not the only organization involved in the systematic and deliberate targeting of conservative groups.
According to National Review, IRS official Lois Lerner exchanged e-mails with an attorney at the Federal Election Commission’s general counsel on two separate occasions wherein Lerner influenced the FEC’s vote in the case of a conservative non-profit organization:
The correspondence suggests the discrimination of conservative groups extended beyond the IRS and into the FEC, where an attorney from the agency’s enforcement division in at least one case sought and received tax information about the status of a conservative group, the American Future Fund, before recommending that the commission prosecute it for violations of campaign-finance law.
The Daily Caller adds, “Deputy assistant to the president for health policy Jeanne Lambrew, the most powerful official on Obamacare implementation within the White House, exchanged confidential taxpayer information with the IRS during the 2012 election. Lambrew hosted 155 White House meetings with IRS official Sarah Hall Ingram, with whom Lambrew exchanged the confidential information.”
Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George has been conducting an investigation into the IRS being used as a tool to target groups over the course of two election cycles, and has determined that the IRS was using inappropriate criteria to identify tax-exempt applications for review by a team of specialists, including applications from organizations with “Tea Party,” “Patriots,” or “9/12” in their name.
Evidently, the FBI investigation has not come to the same conclusion, prompting some to question the legitimacy of an investigation that is being run by an Obama campaign donor.
For example, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and subcommittee chair Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) expressed a lack of confidence in the investigation in a letter sent to Attorney General Eric Holder that voiced concerns over Barbara Bosserman, the DOJ trial attorney leading the investigation. According to Issa, Bosserman “has donated at least $6,750” to the Democratic National Committee and to Obama’s election campaign.
Issa and Jordan claim “politically motivated” leaks further discredit the FBI investigation into the scandal:
Anonymous — and apparently politically motivated — leaks from unnamed law enforcement officials further undermine the public assurances by the current and former FBI directors that this is a legitimate investigation. These leaks come after the Justice Department, citing the confidential nature of the investigation, refused to brief Congress on its progress and congressional investigators independently discovered that a high dollar contributor to the Obama Administration failed to recuse herself.
These revelations further undermine the credibility of the Attorney General Holder and the Justice Department under his leadership. Given the circumstances, there is little reason for the American people to have confidence in this investigation.
The FBI investigators have spent more than half a year investigating the scandal without contacting any of the 41 conservative groups that were victimized by the IRS actions.
Jay Sekulow, chief counsel with the American Center for Law and Justice — which is representing the Tea Party groups — has called the investigation a “sham.”
“To reach a conclusion that no criminal charges will be filed against those responsible for this illegal targeting scheme without interviewing any of our clients — the real victims in this ordeal — is absolutely absurd,” Sekulow said in a statement.
As a result of the FBI investigation turning up no evidence that the IRS has targeted Tea Party and other conservative groups, officials are indicating that there are no criminal charges expected.
The targeted conservative groups are angry at what they feel is a lack of justice.
Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, asserts that it is “absolutely outrageous.”
"It only leads us to the point where we can make guesses about their motives," she said. "Why are they protecting the IRS? Why aren't they getting to the bottom of it? If they don't truly do a real investigation of this there are always going to be doubts and it is not good for the trust between the governors and the governed."
She added, “They wanted to silence us and they have done what they can to silence us ... they’ve done everything they can to make it difficult for us if not impossible at times to exercise our First Amendment rights.”