WASHINGTON – Today, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) announced that they have agreed to settle the lawsuit brought by the Portage County TEA Party and 35 other TEA Party and conservative groups for the targeting of TEA Party Groups during the Obama Administration. In the settlement the IRS acknowledges that its treatment of the TEA Party groups was wrong, details how it has installed procedures to assure that such targeting never happens to any other Americans ever again, assured the TEA Party groups that they would not be subject to any future scrutiny by the IRS, and expressed “its sincere apology” for the way it had treated the groups.
Paragraph 40 of the Settlement states, “The IRS admits that its treatment of Plaintiffs during the tax-exempt determinations process, including screening their applications based on their names or policy positions, subjecting those applications to heightened scrutiny and inordinate delays, and demanding of some Plaintiffs’ information that TIGTA determined was unnecessary to the agency’s determination of their tax-exempt status, was wrong. For such treatment, the IRS expresses its sincere apology.”
Tom Zawistowski, Executive Director of the Portage County TEA Party said, “It has been a long and hard fight for justice. I, and the thousands of members of the Portage County TEA Party both past and present, are very gratified by the settlement agreed to today with the Internal Revenue Service. We accomplished our goals of exposing the tyranny of our government under the Obama Administration, doing something to stop it, and making sure it doesn’t happen again as I announced at our Washington press conference on May 16, 2013. Not many people can take on any government agency, let along the IRS, and win. We thank the ACLJ for the tremendous multi-year legal effort representing us in court. We thank Congressman Jim Jordan, Darrel Issa, Trey Gowdy, Senator Ted Cruz and others for stopping the attacks by the IRS after we made them aware of the Targeting. The bottom line is that, with this Settlement, no one can deny that the IRS targeted American citizens because of their political beliefs and that it was wrong to do so. They admit that, and much more, in the Settlement, just as Lois Lerner admitted it back in 2012.”
Zawistowski continued, “This process started for us in 2010 when we first applied to be a 501(c)4 tax-exempt organization. The targeting by the IRS started in 2011 right after the TEA Party had stunned the Democrats by electing 64 Republicans to take back the US House in 2010. The IRS Targeting continued right through the 2012 election and cost our organization both membership and donations as people were afraid that the IRS would come after them personally simply for being a member of the Portage County TEA Party. Other groups across the nation suffered the same damages. The goal of the Obama Administration was to use the IRS to shut down the TEA Party Movement to insure President Obama’s re-election in 2012. While they did not succeed in permanently crippling the TEA Party movement, as we proved in 2016, President Obama did manage to illegally use the force of the Federal Government to weaken us enough to narrowly win re-election with the help of a terrible Republican candidate in Mitt Romney.”
Zawistowski concluded, “It is wrong that people like Lois Lerner, Holly Paz and IRS Commissioner John Koskinen could not even be fired for their actions under the laws of the time, and in our opinion should have faced criminal charges for what they did to thousands of American citizens who were just using their constitutionally guaranteed rights of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Since the targeting by the IRS, Congress actually passed a law, which was written by Ohio Congressman Jim Renacci, that now allows the IRS to fire any employee that inappropriately takes action against any American taxpayer. I would also note that this settlement does not affect the continuing class action law suit being brought by dozens of TEA Party Groups against the IRS that is working through the Federal District Court in Cincinnati. I am still active in that suit as a representative of the Ohio Liberty Coalition of which I was the President during the time of the targeting. Neither the suit settled today nor the one in Cincinnati gets to the reasons why the targeting was initiated by the IRS. Only a DOJ appointed Special Counsel would have the ability to truly investigate who in the Obama Administration was involved with the IRS Targeting and we are still hopeful that one day the American people will come to know the truth about this horrific abuse of government power.”