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Editorial: Eric Holder is right to order probe of IRS

Attorney General Eric Holder can't be enjoying his job too much these days and that's not just because the Republicans are once again calling for his resignation -- this time because of a Justice Department investigation of the press that the GOP once demanded.

The curse of second-term scandals has hit the Obama administration, and, as usual, the Justice Department is at the center of it. Holder yesterday finally ordered an FBI investigation into the IRS mess that unfolded on the watch of his boss. Holder said the FBI will determine whether any criminal laws were violated as a result of the IRS's partisan scrutiny of groups with "tea party" or "patriot" in their titles that sought tax exempt status. A few hours later, an audit by the IRS Inspector General was released, adding more fuel to the fire. It found lax management at the agency and said the problems that led to the scandal haven't been fixed. But it finds no one outside the IRS was involved.

More details will come from Congressional oversight hearings. But only a federal criminal probe can send the powerful and necessary message that the IRS must never be used as a political tool.