On Wednesday, a group representing 25 organizations affiliated with the Tea Party filed a lawsuit against the IRS and the Obama administration because of the IRS’ unfair targeting of those conservative organizations.
The lawsuit indicates the IRS and Obama administration violated the constitutional rights of the 25 Tea Party organizations when IRS employees subjected those groups to increased rates of tax audits because of the organizations’ conservative stance. The lawsuit specifically identified violations of the First and Fifth Amendments of the United States Constitution, the Administrative Procedure Act, and the operating rules by which the IRS is required to abide.
The lawsuit named Attorney General Eric Holder, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, IRS Division Director Lois Lerner, and acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller, along with several other officials from the IRS.
Congress called Lerner to testify on the matter earlier in May because she was directly responsible for the division that targeted the conservative groups. She refused to testify under the Fifth Amendment on ground that her testimony my implicate herself.
“The whole timeline and the whole narrative that the White House has put forth does not hold up to the truth,” noted Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice.
The lawsuit is asking that the government admit the inappropriate behavior, guarantee protection of conservative organizations from retaliatory audits, and award the organizations compensatory and punitive damages.
“The IRS and the federal government are not going to get away with this unlawful targeting of conservative groups,” Sekulow continued. “As this unconstitutional scheme continues even today, the only way to stop this flagrant and arrogant abuse of our clients’ rights is to file a federal lawsuit, which we have done.”
The White House and IRS did not respond to requests for comment concerning the lawsuits. To date the Obama administration has claimed that while the additional scrutiny violated rules of the IRS it was not targeted at a specific political group and as a result did not violate any laws.
Although conservative organizations have claimed for several years that they believed they were being unfairly targeted by the IRS for tax audits, it was not until earlier this month when a report released through an independent review provided evidence of the practice.
In addition to the lawsuit from the Tea Party organizations, the Justice Department and several Congressional panels are investigating the IRS.
The IRS has already released two senior leaders as a result of the scandal, including Miller and Lerner. Lerner was placed on administrative leave when she refused to resign.
The lawsuit filed today was the third related to the IRS scandal. On May 20, the NorCal Tea Party Patriots filed a suit against the IRS on the groups that its constitutional rights were violated. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages in addition to repayment of costs incurred by the group to comply with the IRS’ unfair tax audits.
On May 21, True the Vote, a conservative organization based in Texas, filed a suit against the IRS requiring the IRS to admit to the wrongdoing, grant the organization tax-exempt status, and compensate the group for expenses incurred complying with the tax audits.
Mark has been a contributor to legal web sites related to bankruptcy, tax, and criminal law since 2011. He has an Accounting degree from Texas A&M University.