(CNSNews.com) – The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which first accused the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of seeking to intimidate Tea Party groups 14 months ago, legally represents 27 such groups and is now demanding that the IRS approve the tax-exempt status of 10 of the groups or face possible legal action.
The ACLJ wants the IRS to respond by this Friday, May 17. In a May 13 letter to Steven Miller, the acting commissioner of Internal Revenue at the IRS, the ACLJ demands that the agency swiftly approve the outstanding 501c(3) and 501c(4) tax-exemption applications of the 10 Tea Party and similar groups. The letter also calls for disciplining the IRS employees who targeted the conservative organizations.
“We are demanding that the IRS grant our remaining clients tax-exempt status immediately,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the ACLJ, in a statement. “If that does not occur by Friday, we will advise our clients of their right to sue the IRS for the redress of their grievances. The targeting scheme employed by the IRS not only violates their own rules and regulations, but is certain to result in a growing mistrust of the IRS by the American people.”
The 10 groups are: Albuquerque Tea Party, Allen Area Patriots, Greater Phoenix Tea Party Patriots, Greenwich Tea Party Patriots, Laurens County Tea Party, Linchpins of Liberty, Myrtle Beach Tea Party, North East Tarrant Tea Party, Patriots Educating Concerned Americans Now (PECAN), and Unite in Action.
Commenting on the politicization of the IRS, Sekulow said, “This is one of the most abhorrent breaches of trust imaginable. We now know this coordinated intimidation scheme went beyond Tea Party groups to include Jewish organizations and even groups that discussed the Constitution. The IRS must be held accountable for this dishonest and notoriously disgraceful conduct.”
Fifteen of the 27 groups represented by the ACLJ were earlier granted tax-exempt status by the IRS. Two other groups withdrew their applications out of frustration of dealing with the IRS’s tactics, which leaves the 10 groups still seeking approval.
As for punishing the IRS employees responsible for the problems, the ACLJ letter states, “That the IRS identify and appropriately discipline all IRS employees who either concocted, knowingly carried out, knowingly failed to stop, or knowingly misinformed Congress or the public about, the scheme to target Tea Party and similar groups in violation of IRS rules and regulations, thereby unlawfully politicizing the IRS and its approval process.”
The ACLJ started to legally represent Tea Party and similar groups last year when it became apparent to them that the IRS engaged in an effort to intimidate and silence such groups, said the ACLJ. The IRS was “demanding information that is outside the scope of legitimate inquiry and violated the First Amendment,” said the ACLJ in its statement.
“The IRS demanded that groups reveal the internal workings of their organizations -- including the identification of members, how they are selected, who they associate with, and even what they discuss,” said the ACLJ. Some of the questions posed by the IRS to conservative groups are posted here.
In addition to its letter demanding the approval of the tax-exempt status of the 10 Tea Party groups, the ACLJ has launched a petition calling upon President Obama and Congress to hold the IRS accountable.
The Petition to End IRS Abuse says, “The Internal Revenue Service cannot be used as a weapon against political enemies. There must be a thorough investigation of IRS abuse, and those responsible must be punished. There is no for excuse turning the full power of the IRS on American citizens.”