Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday that he had ordered an FBI investigation to determine whether the Internal Revenue Service broke any laws when it targeted conservative groups for closer scrutiny of their tax-exempt status.
"I have ordered an investigation. … The FBI is coordinating with the Justice Department to see if any laws were broken," Holder said. "I think as everyone can agree if not criminal, [those actions were] certainly outrageous and unacceptable."
Holder did not say specifically which laws the IRS could have violated, but he said there were various statutes within the IRS code that could apply.
The IRS admitted on Friday that it had screened and scrutinized more closely the applications for 501(c)4 tax exempt status that contained names like "Tea Party" and "patriot."
The practice, the IRS said, was not politically motivated but was a way for "low level" employees to sort through an influx of new applications.