DOJ Announces Settlement in Long-Running Lawsuits with Tea Party Groups
The seven-year legal back-and-forth between the IRS and over 400 conservative groups will come to an end this week, as the Department of Justice (DOJ), which represented the IRS in the cases, has announced a settlement. The lawsuits date back to 2010, when an internal IRS decision to give extra scrutiny to certain applications containing keywords like “tea party” and “patriots” prompted accusations that groups’ constitutional rights were being violated, their organizations singled-out on the basis of their political leanings. Revelations of the decision led to high-profile controversy, including numerous widely-covered congressional hearings at which IRS officials, such as Lois Lerner (who oversaw matters at the agency relating to non-profit organizations), were questioned.
Ultimately, however, both the Obama and Trump administrations opted not to pursue charges, with investigations finding a lack of evidence to indicate the move was politically-motivated.
In 2015, Peter J. Kadzik, the Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs, claimed to have “uncovered substantial evidence of mismanagement, poor judgment and institutional inertia, leading to the belief by many tax-exempt applicants that the IRS targeted them based on their political viewpoints.”
“But poor management is not a crime,” Kadzik noted. “We found no evidence that any IRS official acted on political, discriminatory, corrupt, or other inappropriate motives that would support a criminal prosecution.
Despite the highly-partisan nature of the controversy, President Trump’s Department of Justice reached the same conclusion earlier this year, with Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd writing that, “[T]he Department determined that reopening the criminal investigation would not be appropriate based on the available evidence."
Though the precise details of the settlements have not yet been made public, but the Washington Post highlighted “one agreement, which still must be approved by a judge, the Internal Revenue Service admitted that its treatment of the organizations was ‘wrong’ and expressed a ‘sincere apology’ for what happened. Those suing and the Justice Department in federal court agreed they would dismiss the case with a judge’s declaration that it was illegal to unevenly apply tax laws based on an organization’s name or particular political viewpoint.”
The deal also reportedly leaves each party to "bear its respective fees and costs.”
Posted in General News