“We all know the IRS unconstitutionally targeted tea party groups to shut down their political speech in violation of the First Amendment.  That has been unequivocally proven by the statements of IRS employees.  Today, 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.  Unfortunately, as Attorney General Sessions has stated, the IRS still owes those citizens, and all of us, an apology.  I will wait for it, but won’t be holding my breath.”  

AUSTIN, TEXAS, October 26, 2017– Citizens for Self-Governance is pleased to announce that late yesterday, the United States entered into a generous financial settlement to pay the claims of each of over 400 groups who were targeted by the IRS for their political beliefs. It is a great day for the First Amendment and the promise of fair and impartial government. But this day was too long in coming.

Five groups filed this case, the first claim against the IRS for its targeting of conservative groups, and the only nationwide class action, in May 2013. As part of its mission to bring government back to the people, Citizens for Self-Governance sustained the lawsuit financially over four years, suffering itself from IRS targeting during the discovery process.

In 2015, Judge Susan Dlott of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio certified what may be the only nationwide class ever formed for a claim of this type. In 2016, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals soundly rejected the IRS’s attempt to use taxpayer protection laws to withhold evidence of its own wrongdoing in the case. In 2016, District Judge Michael Barrett entered a preliminary injunction against the IRS, finding a strong showing of a likelihood of success on Texas Patriots Tea Party’s First Amendment claim. In 2017, Texas Patriots became one of the last groups to have its exempt status recognized. Also in 2017, the plaintiffs took the first and only deposition of Lois Lerner, which remains under seal in a manner still being litigated notwithstanding the proposed settlement. Under federal court rules, District Judge Barrett must still approve the class settlement on the motion of the parties.

By the fall of 2017, dozens of IRS officials had testified under oath, and the case was being prepared for trial. As part of this process, Attorney General Sessions’ Department of Justice carefully reviewed the facts. The size of its proposed settlement belies recent, uninformed claims that IRS officials merely mismanaged the files of conservative groups, or subjected liberal groups to similar treatment. To the contrary, plaintiffs developed evidence showing that IRS managers knew that groups’ views, not their activities, were being used to target them for heightened scrutiny. Even after they gained this knowledge, officials like Lois Lerner failed to release the targeted groups, ordering up more scrutiny and delay even while betraying worry that the “Tea Party matter” was “very dangerous.” This was far more than the “lack of adequate management” the IRS or TIGTA is publicly willing to acknowledge.

Attorney General Sessions rightly calls this an “abuse of power.” As he says, the targeted groups deserve an apology from the IRS. Mark Meckler, President of Citizens for Self-Governance said of the settlement, “Sadly, not even a court can force the IRS to apologize or admit to its wrongdoing. Those remedies are unknown to the law.  A true reckoning is finally up to the agency itself. Until the IRS itself steps forward to admit what really happened, we cannot have faith that the same abuse won’t be repeated again. It is easy for the IRS to abuse its toolbox of policies and procedures that seem neutral on their face, just like the superficially innocent process of “centralization” that Lois Lerner and others used as an excuse to abuse the targeted groups. So truly, it is not just targeted groups who need an apology. Every taxpayer and group, whether or not targeted in this particular scheme, has a right to demand a truthful apology based on the facts and a real reckoning. Before Commissioner Koskinen leaves office, Citizens for Self-Governance calls on him to do the right thing.”  

Citizens for Self-Governance is dedicated to the mission of recruiting, educating, training, equipping and motivating a nationwide network of self-governing citizen activists, committed to bringing government back to the people. It is based in Austin, Texas.

Please direct questions to Mark Meckler, (530) 274-9900.

About The Author

Mark Meckler

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at MarkMeckler.com, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.

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