Criminal charges not expected in IRS probe «
WASHINGTON—The Federal Bureau of Investigation doesn’t plan to file criminal charges over the Internal Revenue Service’s heightened scrutiny of conservative groups, according to law-enforcement officials, a move that likely will only intensify debate over the politically charged scandal.
The officials said investigators didn’t find the kind of political bias or “enemy hunting” that would amount to a violation of criminal law. Instead, what emerged during the probe was evidence of a mismanaged bureaucracy enforcing rules about tax-exemption applications it didn’t understand, according to the law-enforcement officials.
While the case is still being investigated and could remain open for months, officials familiar with its progress said it is increasingly unlikely any criminal charges will result. That could change, the officials cautioned, if unexpected evidence is discovered that alters their thinking.
With this year’s midterm elections heating up, the FBI’s decision will feed both parties’ stories about why — or whether — the IRS scandal mattered.
Since the outset, Republicans have voiced skepticism that the Obama administration would properly investigate itself. Last week, Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, challenged the impartiality of a Justice Department prosecutor handling the case because she had made donations to the Obama campaign.
Democrats have maintained there was no criminal wrongdoing on the part of IRS agents, contending that the IRS’s intent wasn’t to punish or hamstring conservative groups because liberal groups received similar scrutiny of their tax filings.