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Alabama TEA Party Group Sues IRS

Jay Sekulow, American Center for Law and Justice
WASHINGTON — The Alabama-based Wetumpka TEA Party is one of 25 conservative organizations suing the U.S. Attorney General, Treasury Secretary, and Internal Revenue Service for targeting them for additional scrutiny by the IRS. The American Center for Law and Justice yesterday filed the lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C. on behalf of the organizations.

“The IRS and the federal government are not going to get away with this unlawful targeting of conservative groups,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ. “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 lawsuit sends a very powerful message to the IRS and the Obama Administration – including the White House: Americans are not going to be bullied and intimidated by our government. They will not be subjected to unconstitutional treatment and unlawfully singled out and punished because of their ideological beliefs. Those responsible for this unprecedented intimidation ploy must be held accountable.”

Rep. Martha Roby told Yellowhammer that the Wetumpka TEA Party’s involvement in the lawsuit is a reminder that the federal government’s abuse of power is not just something we hear about on the national news —it’s directly affecting us in Alabama.

“It is downright un-American for any group to be targeted based on political ideology by the federal government, and particularly by the IRS,” Roby said. “I think the fact that the Wetumpka Tea Party was targeted makes this scandal really hit home for us in Alabama. What we’re seeing is a pervasive abuse of power and a White House either unable or unwilling to stop it.”

The ACLJ’s complaint asserts that the federal government’s “unlawful conduct included but was not limited to excessive scrutiny of Plaintiffs’ applications by requiring donor names, listing of issues important to Plaintiffs’ organizations, including their positions on such issues, the contents of communications between the organizations and legislative bodies, the applicant’s criteria for membership, volunteer names and the political affiliations of persons associated with the organizations…”

In addition to protecting the groups from further harassment, the ACLJ will also seek monetary damages on their behalf.

Of the 25 groups being represented in the lawsuit, 13 organizations received tax-exempt status after lengthy delays, 10 are still pending, and two withdrew applications because of frustration with the IRS process.

Additional groups are likely to be added to the suit as it progresses.

The defendants in the case include U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the IRS, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, former acting commissioner of the IRS Steven Miller, IRS Director of Tax-Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner, IRS Director of Rulings and Agreements Holly Paz, and numerous other officials inside the IRS.

The IRS contends that the targeting scheme originated with a couple of rogue IRS agents out of the Cincinnati, Ohio office and says the abusive conduct has been halted. However, the ACLJ claims to have correspondence showing the tactic of targeting conservative organizations was used not only in the Cincinnati office, but also from two offices in California, El Monte and Laguna Niguel as well as the national office in Washington, D.C.

They also claim to have letters signed by Lois Lerner, Director of Tax-Exempt Organizations, suggesting her personal involvement in sending invasive questionnaires to 15 ACLJ clients in March 2012 — some nine months after she was told about the scheme and promised to stop it.

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