Republicans: DOJ let Lerner 'off the hook'
© Greg Nash

Republicans are blasting the Justice Department for declining to bring charges against IRS official Lois Lerner, the central figure of the Tea Party targeting scandal.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said the department is letting those responsible “off the hook.”

“By abusing the power of government to try to silence conservatives and letting those responsible off the hook, the Obama Administration has cemented its breach of the public trust and shown it cannot be counted on to police itself,” Priebus said in a statement to The Hill.

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“It is because of actions like this that trust in government is so incredibly low.”

The DOJ said in a letter to Congress on Friday that it was closing its investigation of Lerner and only found evidence of “mismanagement” and “poor judgment,” which it added “is not a crime.”

“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,” the letter said.

Lerner was the director of the IRS’s Exempt Organization Unit when a 2013 inspector general report found groups with the words “Tea Party” and “patriot” had been singled out for heightened scrutiny by the agency, often lengthening the approval process for their tax-exempt status applications.

Conservative groups though were quick to slam the decision and urged lawmakers not to drop the matter.

Tea Party Patriots (TPP), an umbrella group for the grassroots conservative movement, called on Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanTwitter joins Democrats to boost mail-in voting — here's why Lobbying world John Ratcliffe is the right choice for director of national intelligence — and for America MORE (R-Wis.), who is expected to be the next House Speaker, to prove his mettle by coming to their defense.

“If Speaker-To-Be Paul Ryan wants to earn support from grassroots activists across the country, he will not let Congress rest until justice is done,” TPP President Jenny Beth Martin said in a statement.

Citizens for Self Governance, the group filing a class action lawsuit against the IRS for the alleged targeting scheme, said the DOJ is putting politics above justice.

“Today’s decision by the Department of Justice is a whitewash and miscarriage of justice at the highest levels of law-enforcement where they put political interests over the First Amendment, the Constitution and the American people,” president Mark Meckler said in a statement.