Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Wednesday that the Justice Department could still bring criminal charges against IRS officials for targeting tea party groups for special scrutiny, contradicting press reports that said investigators have already concluded no crime was committed.
“All the options that we have are on the table,” Mr. Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee, under questioning from Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican.
Mr. Holder also said it would make sense for his department’s investigators to talk to victims of the IRS targeting, but said it’s up to the career employees who are running the probe to make a final determination on that.
Mr. Cornyn said he found it shocking that the government hasn’t talked with Catherine Engelbrecht, an organizer of two tax-exempt groups that was targeted by the tea party for intrusive questions. She, her business and her two groups also faced an IRS audit, inquiries by the FBI, and an occupational safety review.
“She has not heard a word from the [the Justice Department] or the FBI,” Mr. Cornyn said.
After years of waiting, the IRS has finally approved both of Ms. Engelbrecht’s groups for tax-exempt status.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that even though the investigation isn’t complete, federal officials had concluded the IRS’s targeting was the result of overzealous staffers, but didn’t rise to the level of a criminal offense.