A lawsuit brought against the government by True the Vote, an anti-voter fraud group made up of volunteers that was inappropriately targeted by the IRS and Department of Justice, has been thrown out by a federal judge despite acknowledgement of illegal wrongdoing in the case. More from Breitbart on the opinion:
Judge Walton's opinion stated that because the IRS had finally granted True the Vote their 501(c)(3) status, the case "no longer warrant[ed] the Court’s attention and further use of its resources," and deemed True the Vote's lawsuit to now be moot. However, True the Vote had argued specific costs that the IRS' delay had caused them, including fees for attorneys and CPAs, as well as fundraising losses. A number of other non-profit organizations and other donors had either pledged or donated money to True the Vote with the understanding that the group would have official 501(c)(3) status soon. Some of these groups even had requirements in their organizational documents that they could only give money to other approved 501(c)(3) organizations. According to Churchwell, the IRS' years-long delay acted as a "functional denial of our application" and True the Vote was forced to return some donations, and other pledges were revoked. Churchwell described the total costs to True the Vote caused by the IRS' delay to be nearly $90,000.
So because the IRS eventually granted proper 501(c)(3) status to True the Vote, there's no need to hold IRS officials accountable for inappropriately targeting the group and weaponizing government to do so? No justice or reconciliation for the damage done during the delay of the application? What an absolute shame and horrible precedent to set. Not to mention, IRS abuse will continue if there are no consequences for the illegal behavior and decisions that were made.
"This is far from over. This is what the beginning of tyranny looks like and we cannot sit by as Americans and watch it happen," True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht said during an interview with Fox News Friday afternoon.
Other tea party groups targeting by the IRS are outraged and have issued a series of statements in response to the dismissal.
Tea Party Patriots' Jenny Beth Martin:
“Within days of the Citizens United ruling in January 2010, which strengthened free speech rights and the freedom for the people to criticize the government, the Internal Revenue Service – the branch of government most feared by American citizens, and, therefore, best suited to act punitively on behalf of a lawless regime – launched a program that systematically targeted what it believed to be “enemies” of the Obama Administration. That scandal – which went on for several years – was admitted by the IRS and by the person most responsible for the agency's misconduct, Lois Lerner.Founder of the Wetumpka Tea Party Beck Gerritson, who gave compelling Congressional testimony last year about how her group was targeted, is outraged. A lawsuit filed against the government from her group was also thrown out yesterday.
Several dozen victims of the targeting sued the IRS and individual IRS agents for violation of their constitutional rights. Yesterday a federal judge sided with the IRS and dismissed the claims of our fellow citizens and patriots. Amazingly, the Court’s ruling acknowledges the illegal activity by the IRS – but nonetheless concluded that because the IRS says it has discontinued its targeting, the case is "moot.”
We are dismayed, disappointed, and disheartened that the IRS would be allowed to get away with not just infringing on the rights of American citizens, but bulldozing them, casting aside any sense of propriety or privacy in its years-long effort to suppress the Obama Administration’s political opposition.
Tea Party Patriots – while not a plaintiff in the lawsuits – was a victim of the IRS targeting, having been subjected to a delay of more than three years in obtaining its tax exempt status, merely because of our name and beliefs.
The Court’s decision not to sanction either the IRS or the individual agents because it and they had taken “remedial measures” is unconscionable.
Under this view of the law, Al Capone need not have been arrested, prosecuted and convicted; he merely need have surrendered and promised to never cheat on his taxes again.
It is wholly unacceptable simply to accept the IRS’s hollow promises as “remedial measures” in the eyes of the law. When the IRS demands to know the content of people’s prayers, among other outrageous misconduct we have now learned the IRS engaged in during its persecution of tea party groups, a line has been crossed. Forgive us for not taking the Obama Administration at its word when it says it won’t happen again, which is what the Court has asked us to believe.
This Administration is out of control, and has shown time and again it has zero respect for the law or the Constitution. Sadly, the Court’s ruling will do nothing to discourage such behavior."
“When you look at the allegations in our lawsuit along with evidence uncovered by Congressional committees and Judicial Watch, it is undeniable that the IRS is guilty of wrongdoing.However, Judge Walton basically said that since we finally received our tax status (after almost 2 years of waiting) that we now have no case.That’s like a judge telling a burglary victim, that even though she was robbed 2 years ago; since she does not currently have the thieves in her house, she has no case.This ruling is unbelievable! It’s so much more than just a delay of a tax exempt status; it’s about the IRS, a government agency, being used as a weapon against its citizens, i.e. violating our constitutional rights, invading our privacy, bullying and intimidating us, mishandling and leaking our confidential taxpayer information etc., not to mention the ensuing cover-up; and we cannot fight back…we have no recourse.”
Gerritson continued, “The judge did not base his decision on the merits of the case.In fact, he did not deny wrong doing by the IRS but dismissed the case on procedural grounds. He wrote in a footnote: "The court's opinion should not be interpreted as an assessment of the propriety of the alleged conduct by the defendants."It’s unfathomable that the IRS, one of the most feared government agencies in America, was able to engage in a massive, years-long illegal targeting scheme against everyday American’s and get away with it scot-free. This is a huge blow to Americans’ liberty.If the IRS was allowed to target and harass Americans on such a large scale with no repercussions then what will stop them in the future?”“This isn’t over for us. We will not be silent.We commend and support the ACLJ‘s plan to appeal the ruling.We will continue to do everything we can to stand up for citizens’ rights, expose government’s abuse of power and hold them accountable for their actions.”
As a reminder, IRS officials weren't simply interested in delaying or denying 501(c)(3) status to conservative tea party groups. Top officials like Lois Lerner regularly worked with officials at the Department of Justice to target these groups, even going so far as trying to find ways to prosecute members and activists with an end goal of throwing them in jail to send a message.