Court rebukes the IRS over its targeting of Tea Party groups

( Americans who were insulted, angered and left waiting for justice after learning that the weaponized IRS had improperly targeted Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny leading up to the 2012 elections will be happy to know that a federal appeals court has done you a service.

As reported by the Washington Times, the court heavily criticized the agency, saying it took laws that were designed to protect taxpayers from government abuse and turned them on their head in an attempt to protect itself from the very same tea party groups that it targeted.

In addition, the court ordered the IRS to quickly hand over the full secret list of groups that were targeted so a class-action lawsuit, which was filed by the NorCal Tea Party Patriots, can move forward, the paper said.

The court also accused Justice Department lawyers representing the IRS of acting in bad faith, which compounded the initial targeting, by fighting the disclosure of the list.

“The lawyers in the Department of Justice have a long and storied tradition of defending the nation’s interests and enforcing its laws — all of them, not just selective ones — in a manner worthy of the Department’s name. The conduct of the IRS’s attorneys in the district court falls outside that tradition,” Judge Raymond Kethledge, a George W. Bush appointeed, wrote in a unanimous opinion for a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. “We expect that the IRS will do better going forward.”

The Times said that Justice Department officials declined comment on the judicial hammering, and the IRS also would not respond to a request for comment on Kethledge’s unusually strong language.

The case stems from the IRS’ decision in 2010 to begin placing tea party and conservative groups under extra scrutiny when they applied for nonprofit status. The addition scrutiny held up approval of many of the groups, who then could not engage in protected speech and political activities prior to the 2012 general elections.

An inspector general found several hundred groups were asked inappropriate questions about their members’ activities, their fundraising and their political leanings, the Times said.

IRS has since apologized for the behavior, nevertheless insisting that the targeting was a mistake by overzealous employees who were confused by the law rather than it being an attempt by the Obama administration to stifle conservatives.

Almost no one involved in the scandal believes that, however, given the obvious Democratic affiliation of the IRS official who was in charge of non-profit status approval then, Lois Lerner, who has since left the agency. In emails, she referred to Republicans as “crazies” and “a—holes,” and fantasized about working at an Obama organization.

As for the secret list, tea party groups have been waiting for years to get a hold of it but the IRS regularly refused to divulge it, saying that even the names of those who applied or were approved are protected taxpayer information, citing Section 6013 of the tax code.

But Rutledge was having none of that.

“Section 6103 was enacted to protect taxpayers from the IRS, not the IRS from taxpayers,” he wrote.

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Washington Times is part of the USA Features Media network.




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