After 8 dark years of having every single arm of the federal government politicized, in a bid to destroy and delegitimize conservative voices, justice is finally being served.
Trump’s Justice Department announced on Thursday that a multi-million dollar settlement has been reached between the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the numerous conservative groups targeted for harassment by the Obama Administration.
Mark Meckler, President of Citizens for Self-Governance, hailed the $3.5 million settlement after the organization had to trudge through “years of stonewalling,” by the Obama Administration. Citizens for Self-Governance spearheaded a lawsuit that was brought by a coalition of the conservative targeted by the IRS, and threatened with losing their non-profit status for patently illegitimate and politicized reasons.
The plaintiffs successfully argued that the IRS unconstitutionally suppressed their speech, all because they were seen as political opponents of Barrack Hossain Obama.
“We all know the IRS unconstitutionally target tea party groups to shut down their political speech in a violation of the First Amendment. That has been unequivocally proven by the statements of IRS employees,” Meckler explained. “After years of stonewalling by the federal government, the litigation against the IRS for their unconstitutional behavior has been settled and the targeted groups will receive substantial payments.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions had announced on Thursday that the Department of Justice had agreed to settle down the two lawsuits brought in by 469 parties who were targeted by the IRS. He further faulted the agency and the Obama administration for fostering a partisan application of the tax code and had singled out the request for the sensitive information, such as requests for the donor lists, as irrelevant to making it “a determination of tax-exempt status.”
“It is now clear that during the last administration, the IRS began using inappropriate criteria to screen applications for 501(c) status,” he said. “We hope that today’s settlement makes clear that this abuse of power will not be tolerated.”
Sessions also said that the IRS’s approach to further singling out the conservative groups and the prospective non-profits with the “tea party” in their name had distorted its mission. He called the agency’s investigations to be “improper,” adding that it “should never have occurred.”
“It is improper for the IRS to single out groups for different treatment based on their names or ideological positions,” he said. “Any entitlement to tax exemption should be based on the activities of the organization and whether they fulfill requirements of the law, not the policy positions adopted by members or the name chosen to reflect those views.”
The settlement also comes a month after the Justice Department had announced it would not further pursue charges against Lois Lerner, the IRS’s director of the Exempt Organizations unit at the time of the scandal. Lerner and the agency had stonewalled the investigators and had resisted public records requests by claiming that the hard drive failures caused the top officials to lose their emails related to the controversy; the agency had later admitted that it had in fact had located these records. A 2013 inspector general report also found that Lerner, who had exercised her Fifth Amendment rights during the congressional investigations into the scandal, and other senior Washington, D.C., officials were also aware of these targeting as early as 2011.
Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, had called on the Trump administration to continue the investigation of the agency’s conduct in its compliance with the public records law, as well as its handling of the conservative applications. Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said that he had “zero confidence that the Justice Department did an adequate review of the IRS scandal” in the wake of the announcement made during the month of September.
“The FBI collaborated with the IRS and is unlikely to investigate or prosecute itself. President Trump should order a complete review of the whole issue,” Fitton had said. “We await accountability for IRS Commissioner [John] Koskinen, who still serves and should be drummed out of office.