American Center for Law and Justice

Justice Department Settles With Tea Party Groups After I.R.S. Scrutiny

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“What we wish the I.R.S. would do is apologize, but the court can’t make the I.R.S. apologize,” Mr. Greim said.

Jenny Beth Martin, a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots who met with Mr. Sessions this week, said in a statement that the decision on Thursday was “a win for the Tea Party movement and for the First Amendment.”

The second lawsuit, in which the American Center for Law and Justice represented 41 groups in district court, was settled by apology and without monetary settlement because of the statute under which the groups brought their lawsuit. In a consent order filed on Wednesday, the I.R.S. “expresses its sincere apology” for the “heightened scrutiny and inordinate delays” the groups experienced when filing tax forms from 2009 to 2012.

In the agreement, the I.R.S. also admits to being wrong in demanding unnecessary information from the plaintiffs and screening groups based on name or policy affiliation.

“This consent order represents a historic victory for our clients and sends the unequivocal message that a government agency’s targeting of conservative organizations, or any organization, on the basis of political viewpoints, will never be tolerated,” Jay Sekulow, a lawyer with the center, said in a statement.

While the I.R.S. acknowledged wrongly targeting groups based on political leanings, a report this month found that behavior crossed party lines. The Treasury Department’s inspector general reported that the I.R.S. had also targeted groups with liberal and progressive leanings, flagging organization names with terms that included “Progressive” and “Occupy.” Democrats celebrated the findings as confirmation that claims of partisan bias in the I.R.S. were unfounded.

The I.R.S. initially apologized to the groups in 2013, and President Barack Obama later demanded the resignation of Steven T. Miller, the acting I.R.S. commissioner at the time.

Republican legislators have continued to criticize his successor, John A. Koskinen, for his handling of the scandal’s aftermath. Mr. Koskinen’s term expires on Nov. 12. On Thursday, President Trump announced his intention to designate David Kautter, the assistant Treasury secretary for tax policy, as acting I.R.S. commissioner.

“David will provide important leadership while we wait to confirm a permanent commissioner,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

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Wendy Pettit

Wendy Pettit is a writer for NYT and writes for other publications on her spare time. She lives in Chicago with her husband and her dog Zuko.

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