The Justice Department announced Friday that it would not be bringing charges against Lois Lerner, or anybody else, in the political targeting “scandal” at the Internal Revenue Service. If you remember, two and a half years ago, Ms. Lerner disclosed (probably because she knew the Internal Revenue Service’s inspector general would be issuing a report soon) that people at the IRS were targeting, or at least giving additional scrutiny to, applications submitted by tea party and other conservative groups.
I put the word “scandal” in quotation marks because, while Republicans think it was a scandal, and President Obama said, at the time, it was “inexcusable” and he was “angry’ about it, Democrats do longer think it was all that big of a deal. Even though the IRS’s inspector general identified only tea party and other conservative groups as being singled out, Democrats started saying that liberal groups were looked at, too. Also, it was just a matter of “mismanagement” and “poor judgment,” as the Justice Department said in its letter to Congress yesterday, not a real scandal.1
The real scandal, Democrats say, was during the Nixon administration, when President Nixon tried to get the IRS to do audits of his political foes.2 Of course, the difference is, back then, the head of the IRS refused to do it, while Lois Lerner, et al, were apparently doing it on their own. Which is exactly the problem – and the bigger worry.