APRIL 16, 2014
Lawsuit Seeks Documents on Lois Lerner, Administration's Secret Planning to Impose Restrictions on Citizens Speech
WOODSTOCK, Ga. – Tea Party Patriots today filed a lawsuit in US District Court for the District of Columbia against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Treasury, asking the court to force the release of documents shedding light on the agency’s proposal for burdensome regulations for 501c4 citizens groups, and the roles played by former IRS official Lois Lerner (l) and other Administration officials in developing the regulations.
“Americans deserve to know the truth about how the IRS is trying to deprive us and other citizens of our First Amendment rights to free speech. Citizens shouldn't have to go to court to find out what sort of secret activities their government is up to,” said Tea Party Patriots Co-Founder Jenny Beth Martin. “It’s truly shameful; President Obama promised a transparent government but instead, people have to file lawsuits just to learn the truth.” Tea Party Patriots was among those groups targeted by the IRS for intimidation and delaying the group's application for tax-exempt status and will be directly impacted by the proposed regulations.
"With Monday's announcement that the IRS may issue revised regulations for groups such as Tea Party Patriots, getting to the origin of the Administration's plans to muzzle us becomes even more urgent," continued Mrs. Martin. "We plan to submit a new FOIA request this week to learn what has transpired behind the scenes since the proposed rules were first issued, and to add new claims to our lawsuit if the IRS and Treasury continue to ignore our requests for information."
The suit seeks documents relating to the IRS’s “Guidance for Tax Exempt Social Welfare Organizations on Candidate-Related Political Activities,” announced November 29, 2013. To date, the IRS has refused to provide any documents to Tea Party Patriots, which first requested them on December 10, 2013 under the Freedom of Information Act.
“The Proposed Regulations would impose significant burdens and restrictions on the First Amendment activities, speech, and associational rights of every social welfare organization in America,” the suit alleges, arguing that Tea Party Patriots and the public have the right to see any documents related to the IRS proposal. The propose rulemaking resulted in more than 150,000 public comments, which IRS officials described as a record number of responses to a proposed regulation.
The lawsuit makes note of IRS communications released by the House Ways and Means Committee and charges that, “high ranking individuals within the Treasury and the IRS began as early as June 2012 to develop new regulations “off plan” and in secret.” The suit specifically references email about the new regulations from Treasury Official Ruth Madrigal to Lois Lerner, the embattled former head of exempt organizations at the IRS who has been referred to the Justice Department for criminal investigation and has been found in contempt of Congress for her role in the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups seeking tax exempt status.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said Monday the IRS is likely rewriting the proposed regulations to be reissued at some point.
"The IRS is continuing to scheme behind closed doors to restrict our First Amendment rights. Tea Party Patriots intends to continue to force the IRS and the Obama Administration to comply with the law, to come out of the darkness and to conduct this process in the light of day," concluded Mrs. Martin.
Tea Party Patriots is a national grassroots coalition with more than 3,400 locally organized chapters and more than 15 million supporters nationwide. Tea Party Patriots is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting the principles of fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government, and free markets. Visit Tea Party Patriots online at www.TeaPartyPatriots.org.