More than two dozen conservative and Tea Party groups are filing a lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service, Attorney General Eric Holder, and top IRS officials.
The lawsuit is in response to allegations that the Obama administration unlawfully targeted them because of their political beliefs and also kept their applications for tax-exempt status from passing in a timely manner.
The lawsuit is asking for a declaratory judgement that says the defendants, including IRS director of exempt organizations Lois Lerner “unlawfully delayed and obstructed” applications for tax-exempt status.
Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the 25 groups, stated:
“The IRS and the federal government are not going to get away with this unlawful targeting of conservative groups. The lawsuit sends a very powerful message to the IRS and the Obama Administration … Americans are not going to be bullied and intimidated by our government.”
The ACLJ is a conservative public interest law firm. Along with a declaratory judgement, the lawsuit filed by conservative groups also asks for monetary damages, protection from further IRS targeting, and tax-exempt status for 10 of the conservative groups who have outstanding applications.
There are currently 25 plaintiffs. However, the ACLJ stated that more will likely be added. While 13 of the plaintiffs have received their tax-exempt status, two have withdrawn their applications.
The lawsuit against the IRS and the Obama administration comes shortly after a report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration showed that the IRS targeted tax-exempt applications based on “inappropriate criteria.”
That included organizations’ names and was responsible for significantly delaying the applications from being processed through. Some of the applications for Tea Party groups took more than twice as long as they should have.
The White House released a statement saying it wasn’t aware of the targeting and that President Obama learned about it when news of the report broke. Lerner, who has been suspended from the Exempt Organizations department, pleaded the fifth and apologized for the scandal. She also explained that she first learned about it in 2012 when Tea Party groups first complained.
In the wake of the scandal, acting-IRS Commissioner Steven Miller resigned. He also told Congress at the time that targeting conservative groups was the result of “foolish mistakes” made by low-level IRS employees. He denied that politics or partisanship in any way motivated the people responsible.
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