Friday, October 23, 2015

Justice Department Finds No Political Targeting at IRS

Washington, D.C. (Oct. 23, 2015)—Today,Rep. John Conyers, Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee and  Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued the following statements regarding the Department of Justice’s letter finding no evidence that the IRS targeted conservative groups for political reasons.

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
Ranking Member Conyers stated:

“The Department’s findings confirm what we have known since the self-proclaimed ‘conservative Republican’ manager in Cincinnati explained more than two years ago that the IRS did not target conservative groups for political reasons and took no direction from the White House.  This is also consistent with the conclusions of two Inspector General reports and multi-year House and Senate Congressional investigations, including a recent bipartisan report from the Senate Finance Committee.  It is time Republicans end this partisan witch-hunt and focus on matters that impact the lives of the American people.”

Ranking Member Cummings stated:

"Today, the Justice Department confirmed the same conclusions we had years ago.  Over the past five years, Republicans in the House of Representatives have squandered literally tens of millions of dollars going down all kinds of investigative rabbit holes – IRS, Planned Parenthood, Benghazi – with absolutely no evidence of illegal activity.  I believe the American people have higher expectations for their elected officials, and they want Congress to start doing its job and focusing on issues that matter instead of these ridiculous, partisan, taxpayer-funded attacks."

The IRS reported on June 3, 2015, that it has spent nearly $20 million responding to requests relating to this investigation:

“More than 250 IRS employees have spent more than 160,000 hours working directly on complying with congressional investigations, at a cost of approximately $20 million.”  

As of March 25, 2015, the IRS had produced more than 1.3 million pages of documents in response to Congressional requests.  The Oversight and Government Reform Committee alone has conducted 54 witness interviews, and the Inspector General has conducted multiple inquiries, the most recent of which included interviewing 118 witnesses and reviewing more than 20 terabytes of data. 

According to today's letter from the Department of Justice:

In collaboration with the FBI and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), the Department's Criminal and Civil Rights Divisions conducted an exhaustive probe.  We conducted more than 100 witness interviews, collected more than one million pages of IRS documents, analyzed almost 500 tax-exemption applications, examined the role and potential culpability of scores of IRS employees, and considered the applicability of civil rights, tax administration, and obstruction statutes.  Our investigation uncovered substantial evidence of mismanagement, poor judgment, and institutional inertia, leading to the belief by many tax exempt applicants that the IRS targeted them based on their political viewpoints.  But poor management is not a crime.  We found no evidence that any IRS official acted based on political, discriminatory, corrupt, or other inappropriate motives that would support a criminal prosecution.  We also found no evidence that any official involved in the handling of tax-exempt applications or IRS leadership attempted to obstruct justice.  Based on the evidence developed in this investigation and the recommendation of experienced career prosecutors and supervising attorneys at the Department, we are closing our investigation and will not seek any criminal charges."

In June 2013, a self-proclaimed “conservative Republican” Screening Group Manager who worked at the IRS for 21 years as a civil servant and supervised a team of Screening Agents in the Cincinnati field office denied that he or anyone on his team was directed by the White House to target conservative groups applying for tax exempt status, or that their actions in screening tax-exempt applicants were politically motivated:

Q:        Do you have any reason to believe that anyone in the White House was involved in the decision to screen Tea Party cases?

A:         I have no reason to believe that.

Q:        Do you have any reason to believe that anyone in the White House was involved in the decision to centralize the review of Tea Party cases?

A:         I have no reason to believe that.

He further stated:

Q:        In your opinion, was the decision to screen and centralize the review of Tea Party cases the targeting of the President’s political enemies?

A:        I do not believe that the screening of these cases had anything to do other than consistency and identifying issues that needed to have further development.
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