25 tea party groups sue Obama administration, IRS
By: Byron Tau
May 29, 2013 02:11 PM EDT
A conservative watchdog group filed a lawsuit Wednesday on behalf of 25 tea party group against the Internal Revenue Service and Obama administration officials.
The complaint, filed by the American Center for Law and Justice, alleges that the Obama administration overstepped its authority and violated the First and Fifth amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
It’s the latest in the unfolding legal drama over the IRS’ admitted targeting of tea party groups — a scandal that has already cost the acting IRS head his job.
“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,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ, in a statement. “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.”
The suit charges that IRS and Obama administration officials “unlawfully delayed and thereby effectively denied approval of Plaintiffs’ applications for tax exempt status” based “solely upon Plaintiffs’ political viewpoints.”
The suit asks federal courts to stop any further IRS abuse or retaliation. The groups are also seeking unspecified damages to be determined at trial.
Twenty-five tea party groups from around the country are listed as plaintiffs. The ACLJ names the IRS, Attorney General Eric Holder, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, outgoing acting IRS commissioner Steven Miller, and other IRS officials as defendants. Lois Lerner, the director of the exempt organization division at the center of the controversy, is also a named defendant. She was placed on paid administrative leave last week.
The suit is just the latest legal challenge against the IRS’ admitted practice of subjecting groups with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names.
The group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a suit last week in federal district court, asking that the IRS clarify its rules on tax exempt nonprofit groups.
Also last week, the NorCal Tea Party Patriots filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati — alleging that their constitutional rights have been violated by the IRS.
IRS officials admitted to the practice of singling out conservative groups — but have insisted that there was political motivation behind it.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.