F.B.I. investigators do not believe Internal Revenue Service officials committed crimes in the unusually heavy scrutiny of conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status, a law enforcement official said Monday. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/14/us/charges-seen-as-unlikely-in-scrutiny-by-the-irs.html?ref=us
Prosecutors for the Justice Department who have been overseeing the case have not made a decision about whether to file charges against the officials — although that would seem unlikely given the F.B.I. investigators’ conclusion, according to the official, speaking anonymously because he could not talk on the record about a continuing investigation.
Despite an admission by the I.R.S. that it inappropriately targeted conservative groups, by searching for groups with the words “Tea Party” or “Patriots” in their names, many legal experts and law enforcement officials say they do not believe that the scrutiny broke the law. Some members of Congress had called for the Justice Department to investigate the tax-collecting agency. The Wall Street Journal was the first to report Monday that criminal charges were unlikely.
I.R.S. documents show the agency gave the same scrutiny to some liberal groups, using the key words “Progressive” and “Occupy.”
The news that criminal charges are unlikely is not expected to stop the debate over whether politics had motivated the I.R.S. scrutiny. Last week, two senior House Republicans sent a letter to the Justice Department demanding that the prosecutor overseeing the case be removed because she had donated money to President Obama’s campaign. The letter was sent by Representative Darrell Issa of California, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the head of the regulatory affairs subcommittee.
They said that the prosecutor, Barbara Bosserman, had donated at least $6,750 to Mr. Obama and the Democratic National Committee. “The department has created a startling conflict of interest,” the letter said.