Department of Justice Declines to Reopen Criminal Investigation of Lois Lerner

Posted on October 18, 2017

Lois Lerner was the IRS Exempt Organizations Division Director prior to her resignation.  She resigned because it came to light that the IRS used inappropriate criteria to select applications filed by certain organizations seeking 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) tax exempt status in 2010 and 2012 for additional scrutiny.

Specifically, IRS employees identified certain applications for additional scrutiny based upon their names rather than by focusing on whether the applicants were engaged in prohibited political campaign activities not permitted by tax exempt organizations.  Further, these applications experienced substantial delays and the groups were subjected to unnecessary information requests.

Although an investigation revealed substantial IRS mismanagement, the investigation concluded that there was no criminal intent by any IRS official, including Lerner, and the Department of Justice closed its investigation without pursuing criminal charges.

United States Representatives Brady and Roskam, in a letter to the Attorney General dated April 12, 2017, asked the United States Department of Justice to re-examine its decision to not criminally prosecute Lerner.  The United States Department of Justice responded to the letter declining to reopen the investigation against Lerner stating that it would be inappropriate to do so based upon the available evidence.

We agree that inappropriately targeting exempt organizations based solely upon their name was highly inappropriate, but we are not certain as to whether that behavior was illegal and warrants criminal prosecution based upon the information that we have seen.  What do you think?

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