After years of denial, the IRS has admitted it targeted conservative groups during the Obama administration and punished those groups for purely political reasons.
In a historic settlement, a judge this week approved a plan for the Internal Revenue Service to pay restitution to hundreds of conservative groups. It is the first time the IRS has been forced to pay a settlement of this kind.
The IRS admitted to unconstitutionally targeting groups based on those group’s political philosophy and agreed to pay $3.5 million to the groups. For years the Obama administration denied that its agencies, including the IRS, did any thing wrong but the evidence was overwhelming. Those groups were harassed with intrusive inspections and denial of non-profit status.
Faced with a new administration that promised to “drain the swamp” of corruption, the IRS now admits its made changes so that political targeting can’t occur in the future.
“It shows that when a government agency desires to target citizens based on their viewpoints, a price will be paid,” said Edward Greim, the lawyer who led the class action case in federal court in Cincinnati.
The groups, which included Tea Party organizations, also received a “sincere apology” from the IRS, and the government agreed to a declaratory judgment that “it is wrong” to scrutinize a tax return because of a taxpayer’s name or political philosophy, the report said.
The settlement is historic
“I’m not frankly aware of any other class-action lawsuit against the IRS for anything where the IRS paid money,” Mark Meckler, who as president of Citizens for Self Governance funded the class-action challenge, previously told The Washington Times when the settlement was submitted for final approval a few weeks ago.
No Criminal Charges For Senior IRS Executive Lois Lerner
Lois Lerner, then-senior executive of the IRS, allegedly “put in place new processes that guaranteed even more delay,” Greim told the Times, referring to Tea Party groups’ attempts to secure tax-exempt status.
But Lerner denied that she encouraged the targeting.
In fact, a U.S. Justice Department review cleared her and called her one of the “heroes of the saga,” saying she attempted to stop it.
Case Lasted for Years
The litigation for Wednesday’s settlement lasted about five years.
Conservative groups are reportedly calling for testimony to be unsealed. Observers believe that the testimony ties the harassment directly to the highest levels of the Obama administration and that the targeting of conservative and Christian groups was widespread and punitive.
Judge Barrett has kept everything sealed for now but is still weighing a final decision.