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DOJ Won't Seek Criminal Charges Against IRS In Tax-Exempt Probe

The investigation found that "no evidence that any IRS official acted based on political, discriminatory, corrupt, or other inappropriate motives." The DOJ also cleared former IRS official Lois Lerner, who became the face of the issue.

Posted on October 23, 2015, at 5:27 p.m. ET

Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images

The Department of Justice notified Congress on Friday that it will not seek criminal charges against the IRS and former official Lois Lerner after an investigation into whether the agency unfairly targeted conservative groups, according to Congressman Darrell Issa's office.

The DOJ investigation found "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," Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik said in the letter, first reported by CNN.

Kadzik said the DOJ probe found "no evidence that any IRS official acted based on political, discriminatory, corrupt, or other inappropriate motives that would support a criminal prosecution."

The investigation also did not find that any IRS officials had attempted to obstruct justice. The DOJ investigation was closed.

In May 2013, a Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration audit found that IRS Exempt Organizations Unit, while under Lerner's command, had unfairly thwarted tax-exempt applications from tea party-affiliated groups because of their political views.

The report launched the Department of Justice investigation to review the agency's behavior for criminal actions.

Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) called Friday's DOJ decision "a low point of accountability in an Administration that is better known for punishing whistleblowers than the abuse and misconduct they expose."

He added that the conclusion ignores "volumes of evidence in the public record and efforts to obstruct legitimate inquires."

"Giving Lois Lerner a free pass only reinforces the idea that government officials are above the law and that there is no consequence for wrongdoing,” he said.

Lois Lerner resigned from her position in September 2013.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.