WASHINGTON—The Federal Bureau of Investigation doesn’t plan to file criminal charges over the Internal Revenue Service’s heightened scrutiny of conservative groups, law-enforcement officials said, a move that likely will only intensify debate over the politically charged scandal.
The officials said investigators didn’t find the kind of political bias or “enemy hunting” that would amount to a violation of criminal law. Instead, what emerged during the probe was evidence of a mismanaged bureaucracy enforcing rules about tax-exemption applications it didn’t understand, according to the law-enforcement officials.
While the case is still being investigated and could remain open for months, officials familiar with its progress said it is increasingly unlikely any criminal charges will result. That could change, the officials cautioned, if unexpected evidence is discovered that alters their thinking.
With this year’s midterm elections heating up, the FBI’s decision will feed both parties’ stories about why—or whether—the IRS scandal mattered.