It looks like Lois Lerner, the scandal-scarred former head of the IRS Tax Exemption Unit, can finally relax and enjoy her forced retirement. Last week, the Obama Justice Department announced that they were declining to prosecute her for misusing her office to target and harass conservative groups applying for 501(c)(4) status. Justice, in a letter to the House Judiciary Committee, said that while it found “mismanagement, poor judgment and inertia,” there was no case for a criminal prosecution.
I’m not exactly sure what inertia means in this case, but one thing is for sure: if you’re going to commit a crime, it’s best to share the ideology of the potential prosecutor.
This case is a travesty. As the CEO of a company that provides IRS exemption services for new nonprofits, I can personally tell you that the targeting was real and it was illegal. We have multiple clients that were victimized by Lerner’s office. As noted in a recent op-ed in Investors’ Business Daily,
Lerner was caught red-handed targeting Tea Party and other conservative groups, wrote partisan emails to prove it, then engaged in a massive cover-up effort — with a suspiciously crashed server, an oddly missing BlackBerry and plenty of excuses.
She evaded even more accountability by shielding herself with the Fifth Amendment in Congress. The consequences to her have been . .. retirement on a full pension with all her bonuses to a multimillion-dollar mansion in the deep D.C. suburbs.
As for her victims — and they were many — there is no justice. Now everyone, no matter what their political leanings, will wonder if they too are a political target by an out-of-control agency protected by the Justice Department.
Because that’s the real consequence of this failure to hold Lerner accountable: A precedent has been set.
IBD’s article is spot-on. Through this highly partisan decision by DOJ, a truly non-partisan precedent is now established. The full weight of the federal machine can be weaponized against private groups, with impunity, for simply representing an ideology different than that of the current administration. This should scare and enrage any private citizen, regardless of left or right leanings, who wishes to exercise their rights of civic involvement. And yes, I would be saying this just as loudly if this were a Republican scandal.
I cannot say I’m surprised at this outcome. Frankly, I would have been shocked had it gone the other way. But that doesn’t stop me from being disappointed. This entire episode is disgraceful. By failing to hold her accountable, DOJ has now empowered other ideologues to target those they disagree with politically.
IBD got their headline correct: IRS’ Lois Lerner Skates.