Tea party groups suing IRS call for independent prosecutor

By Bob Unruh


Dozens of tea party organizations that have sued the Internal Revenue Service for obstructing their application for tax-exempt status because of their beliefs are demanding that the government appoint an independent prosecutor to decide if criminals charges should be filed.

“We have seen a deliberate and systematic effort by the IRS to delay, deflect and deceive Congress in its effort to hold those responsible for this unlawful targeting scheme accountable,” said Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice.

“We’re encouraged by the announcement of a criminal probe now under way by the IRS watchdog group. With this development, it is clearer than ever, that an independent prosecutor must be appointed – a move that would greatly assist in the recovery of evidence and bring an end to the repeated stonewalling by the IRS.”

When it was discovered that the federal tax collectors under President Obama had used their federal authority and power to attack various tea party and Christian organizations, the ACLJ sued.

The case involved 41 groups from 22 states, and a district judge dismissed it. However, the legal team promised an appeal, and of the 39 groups remaining in the case, 29 eventually and belatedly got their requested tax-exempt status.

Seven other groups withdrew their applications “because of the frustration with the IRS process,” Sekulow’s organization reported.

And the applications for the last three still are pending two years after the scandal erupted.

The call for the independent prosecutor comes on the heels of stunning admissions from the federal government that thousands of emails from Lois Lerner, the IRS executive supervising the division that discriminated against the tea party groups, suddenly have been found.

Lerner twice refused to answer questions from Congress and eventually, after cashing in on an estimated $134,000 in bonuses, left the IRS.

At issue have been her communications with others about the targeting of conservative groups: who gave her instructions, with whom did she consult with and to whom she give instructions.

IRS officials previously had said the hard drive for her computer was destroyed and the email messages were irretrievably lost.

However, in testimony to Congress this week, IRS Inspector General Timothy Camus told the House Oversight Committee another 424 tapes possibly containing Lerner emails were found.

Camus also confirmed, “There is potential criminal activity.”

That prompted ACLJ, which is been in the middle of the legal fight from the outset, to say enough is enough.

The legal team said the case has been going on “for years,” and the American people want justice because they understand the severity of a government agency attacking groups of citizens based on their beliefs.

The admission of a criminal investigation underscores the need for an independent prosecutor to uncover what actually happened, ACLJ said.

Several congressional committees continue to investigate the IRS misbehavior, which targeted organizations that were seeking to begin operating just as the 2012 president election approached.

They were almost exclusively organizations that advocated policy positions contrary to President Obama’s. In 2013, the IG admitted the IRS repeatedly delayed action on the pending applications, asked intrusive questions of some groups, including about the content of their prayers, and even demanded in one case that members promise not to protest against abortion businesses.

Camus said the 32,000 newly uncovered emails were being analyzed.

The Justice Department also is investigating, but critics have little confidence in the agency, charging it has politicized its duties.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, the Oversight Committee chairman, told the Washington Times the ongoing investigations undercut Obama’s claims last year that there was no evidence of corruption in the IRS’s targeting.

“I have no idea how the president came to such a definitive conclusion without all the facts,” he said.

As recently as a few weeks ago, the Obama administration was refusing to release documents about the IRS targeting program.

And when a federal judge at one point dismissed the claims by the tea party groups, ACLJ promised to pursue appeals.

District Judge Reggie B. Walton said the claims were moot because the IRS took steps to address the scandal and “publicly suspended its targeting scheme.”

But ACLJ’s Sekulow said, “It does not deter our efforts to seek justice for our clients.”

He charged the IRS violated the groups’ constitutional rights to due process and equal protection through its secret targeting of their applications.

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