U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) -- Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday he's opened a
criminal inquiry into the Internal Revenue Service's handling of
applications for tax-exempt status by Tea Party groups.
the IRS' actions "outrageous and unacceptable," the attorney general
told reporters he asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to look into
the matter Friday, when the IRS first publicly acknowledged it had
treated conservative groups differently.
He did not say what potential violations of federal law may have occurred.
Q&A: The IRS-Tea Party scandal explained
FBI is coordinating with the Justice Department to see if any laws were
broken in connection with those matters related to the IRS. Those were,
as I think everyone can agree, if not criminal they were certainly
outrageous and unacceptable. We're examining the facts to see if there
were any criminal violations," Holder said.
The scandal involves
the IRS office in Cincinnati, where all applications for tax-exempt
status go for processing. In March 2010, the IRS began to separate out
applications from groups with "Tea Party" or "patriot" in their names,
giving them added scrutiny which sometimes involved requests for donor
lists. The additional scrutiny delayed approval of these groups'
applications for months.