Back in 2013, a group of 41 conservative groups filed a lawsuit against the IRS over the practice of delaying and obstructing applications by conservative groups for tax exempt status. The lawsuit sought an injunction against the institutionalized discrimination as well as monetary damages from Lois Lerner, some other IRS officials, and the US Government. The suit was initially tossed by a district court then reinstated by the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. Another case, involving 428 plaintiffs was wending its way through the lower courts.
This whole sorry spectacle came to a screeching stop today:
The Justice Department has reached settlement agreements with groups that alleged their constitutional rights were violated when their applications for tax-exempt status received extra scrutiny because their names contained words such as “tea party” or “patriots,” court filings show.
In one agreement, which still must be approved by a judge, the Internal Revenue Service admitted that its treatment of the organizations was “wrong” and expressed a “sincere apology” for what happened.
Those suing and the Justice Department in federal court agreed they would dismiss the case with a judge’s declaration that it was illegal to unevenly apply tax laws based on an organization’s name or particular political viewpoint.
The targeting of tea party organizations that applied for tax-exempt status was a major controversy of the Obama administration, as hundreds of conservative-leaning groups received scrutiny. In some cases, it delayed the processing of applications for years.
Many felt the conduct was an example of the president punishing his political enemies.
This is the statement from Justice:
JUST IN: Justice Dept. settles with groups improperly targeted by IRS: “There is no excuse for this conduct.” pic.twitter.com/9bSGp80kxz
— ABC News (@ABC) October 26, 2017
This is long overdue. But it is only half a victory. The unfortunate thing is that the the underlying problems remain. You have a famously abusive agency whose managers–political and career–demonstrated they were hostile to conservative political groups in word and in deed. The agency went so far as to destroy evidence and ignore Congress in its cover-up. None of the people involved were punished for these actions. The groups got an apology and an injunction but received no monetary damages. The IRS director, who quickly proved himself to be a major part of the problem, is still in office–I can’t begin to imagine how that has been allowed to continue. In short, nothing was settled and nothing will be settled short of a wholesale purge of that agency.