by WorldTribune Staff, August 21, 2017
The IRS must name the specific employees it blames for targeting tea party groups for extra scrutiny and must prove it has halted the targeting of the groups, a federal judge ordered last week.
Judge Reggie B. Walton also said the IRS must explain why the IRS delayed extending non-profit status to 38 groups that are part of a lawsuit in the District of Columbia, The Washington Times reported on Aug. 17.
Walton said it was time for the IRS to “Lay it on the line. Put it out there.”
“Why hide the ball?” the judge asked the tax agency. “If there’s nothing there, there’s nothing there.”
Walton told the IRS to go beyond searching a basic agency database for records and ordered it to scour “other relevant resources containing documents from the relevant time period.”
He gave the IRS until Oct. 16 to finish the search.
According to the Times’ report, IRS senior executive Lois Lerner initially said the problem was “rogue employees at an Ohio office who botched the handling” of the tea party groups’ requests.
Subsequent investigations revealed that IRS officials at the highest levels of Washington were aware of the delays and extra scrutiny.
Some of the groups’ applications are still awaiting approval. The IRS late last month did agree to a process for deciding on one of the key outstanding cases.
Carly Gammill, a lawyer at the American Center for Law and Justice, which is representing some of the groups in the lawsuits, told Judge Walton that they are concerned about an email sent by IRS employees during the initial targeting speculating that they would approve applications but would review them later for follow-ups.
“We suspect we will have to approve the majority of the c4 applications,” Holly Paz, a top Lerner aide, said in one 2011 email. “We will also refer these organizations to the Review of operations for follow-up in a later year.”
Gammill said the case against the IRS has been open for four years and that it’s time the agency explain what it did and whether it’s still treating tea party applications differently.
Laura Conner, the Justice Department lawyer defending the IRS, said the inquiries would absorb too much time and effort, with no evidence that they would produce any new evidence.
“The United States should not be held to respond to far-reaching inquiries,” she said.