A formal apology and reported $3.5 million settlement by the IRS with tea party and other conservative organizations the federal agency targeted during the 2012 election may not be the end of the story.
Just as apologizing – even sincerely – to a highway patrol officer may not enable a driver to avoid a traffic ticket.
Several individuals and groups that were victimized by the IRS tax-exempt organizations division run by Lois Lerner are calling for the reopening of a criminal investigation into her activities.
WND reported Friday the IRS offered a “sincere apology” for the Obama administration’s manipulation of the feared federal agency to target conservative organizations when Barack Obama was seeking re-election.
“For such treatment, the IRS expresses its sincere apology,” the agency said in a proposed consent order to resolve a number of lawsuits against the government brought by the injured organizations.
The IRS tax-exempt division admitted it deliberately delayed action on groups that opposed Obama.
Many of the groups opposed Obama’s far-left agenda, which included state-controlled health care, abortion and same-sex marriage.
But now it appears that the IRS apology is insufficient for some.
The Washington Examiner reported Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., called Monday for the Department of Justice to review whether or not it should prosecute Lerner.
He’s chairman of the oversight subcommittee responsible for the IRS.
“Lerner betrayed the nation’s trust yet managed to avoid prosecution,” Buchanan said. “Heads should roll and people should be held accountable for this gross abuse of power.”
Leesa Donner of the Liberty Nation blog, one of the targeted groups, commented on the apparent settlement.
“It seems that IRS Senior Executive Lois G. Lerner is in the crosshairs again,” Donner wrote.
“And for many who have been persecuted by the most powerful agency of the most powerful government in the world – this comes not a moment too soon.”
She noted it was “under Lerner’s watch that the tyranny of the IRS ruled for years.”
“It was under Ms. Lerner that these illegal acts of political persecution were consistently and systematically applied. It was Ms. Lerner who took the Fifth repeatedly in congressional hearings on the matter. And it was under Ms. Lerner’s watch that IRS emails from the period of time in question magically disappeared.”
Donner said Liberty Nation’s parent organization, One Generation Away, was one of the more than 400 targeted groups listed in the class action suit against the IRS.
“It is a repugnant tale of abuse of power, tyranny and the perversion of the rule of law.”
The blog noted Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, also has suggested further action.
Fitton said the IRS is a “political tool for politicians in power and we have to understand that and take that tool away from them because it’s liable to be abused and it’s been abused repeatedly over the years.”
“I don’t know how many lessons we learn before taking action,” he said.
Ohio Tea Party Tom Zawistowski argued Lerner should have been charged criminally.
He said a special counsel should pursue the case.
Donner wrote: “All is not said and done. Lerner and a compatriot Holly Paz were deposed by a group filing suit in Ohio. Apparently, those depositions remain sealed because the two women say they fear for their lives should it be made public. What does that tell you?”
No charges were filed under the Obama administration, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this year said he would not pursue any charges against Lerner at this time.
The consent order identifies Lerner as at fault for allowing the problem to fester.
“The then-director of the EO Division, Lois Lerner, first became aware that the IRS received applications from Tea Party groups as early as April or May 2010. For the next two years, Lerner failed to adequately manage the EO Division employees who processed these applications. Moreover, Lerner failed to inform upper level IRS management of the serious delays in processing applications for tax-exempt status from Tea Party and other political sensitive groups,” the order states.
Dozens of the conservative groups that brought complaints were represented by the American Center for Law and Justice, which issued a statement Thursday.
“We have just obtained a resounding victory in our legal challenge to the IRS’s political targeting of conservative organizations,” it said. “In an unprecedented victorious conclusion to our years-long legal battle against the IRS, the bureaucratic agency has just admitted in federal court that it wrongfully targeted tea party and conservative groups during the Obama administration and issued an apology to our clients for doing so.
“In addition, the IRS is consenting to a court order that would prohibit it from ever engaging in this form of unconstitutional discrimination in the future.”
In the order, the IRS “admits that its treatment of plaintiffs during the tax-exempt determinations process, including screening their applications based on their names or policy positions, subjecting those applications to heightened scrutiny and inordinate delays, and demanding of some plaintiffs’ information that TIGTA determined was unnecessary to the agency’s determination of their tax-exempt status, was wrong.”
The attack on conservative groups became apparent early in 2012 when ACLJ was contacted by “literally dozens of tea party and conservative groups who were being harassed by the Obama IRS after submitting applications for tax-exempt status.”
While Lerner publicly admitted the targeting campaign was going on, no action was taken against her, and she ultimately left the government on a retirement plan while lawsuits were under way.
The IRS used tactics such as demanding donor lists, copies of communications, Internet passwords, and personal political and charitable activities of officers and their family members.
In one case, the IRS demanded to know the subject of group members’ prayers. And in another, the IRS demanded that members stop opposing the Planned Parenthood abortion industry.
The Obama administration had claimed the scandal was a “phony.”