ACLJ: Tainted Investigation into IRS Scandal Makes it Impossible for Targeted Groups to Meet with Federal Investigators
(Washington, DC) - The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which represents 41 organizations in a federal lawsuit challenging the IRS, said today it is not in the best interest of its clients to meet with the FBI to discuss the unlawful IRS targeting scheme because the Justice Department’s investigation is “deeply tainted” because of new evidence revealing that federal agencies were urged to prosecute conservative groups for their political beliefs.
“The Justice Department – which oversees the FBI – is not capable of conducting a credible and truly independent investigation into the IRS targeting scheme,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ. “This federal investigation is deeply tainted because it is clear that this unlawful targeting scheme was the result of a well-coordinated effort by the IRS and other agencies to punish groups and organizations for expressing their First Amendment rights. We now know that the Justice Department as well as other agencies worked together with the IRS during the targeting campaign, with the DOJ even encouraging federal investigators to pursue prosecutions simply because of the conservative beliefs of groups and organizations. It is not in the best interest of our clients to meet with federal investigators who were urged to pursue these very organizations during the height of the targeting scandal. We continue to believe that a special prosecutor is needed to get the facts – to get the truth about the totality of this unlawful targeting scheme.”
The ACLJ says it has been contacted by federal investigators in recent months requesting to interview clients who are named as plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit challenging the unlawful targeting scheme.
The ACLJ said today it is rejecting that request based on evidence that reveals the Justice Department contacted former top IRS official Lois Lerner by email to see if it could “piece together” prosecutions of non-profits even before any evidence of wrongdoing emerged. In an email exchange, Nikole Flax, then the IRS commissioner’s chief of staff, told Lerner “I think we should do it . . . . Also, we need to reach out to FEC.”
This revelation comes following the IRS assertion that it “lost” two years’ worth of Lerner’s emails – along with the emails of six other top IRS officials.
The ACLJ yesterday sent letters to the defendants in its lawsuit, federal agencies, and Democrat members of Congress requesting that they preserve any and all communications that they have had with Lerner.
The ACLJ represents 41 organizations in 22 states in its federal lawsuit. Of the 41 groups, 26 organizations received tax-exempt status after lengthy delays, 9 are still pending, 5 withdrew applications because of frustration with the IRS process, and 1 had their file closed by the IRS after refusing to answer the unconstitutional requests for more information.
Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), focusing on constitutional law, is based in Washington, D.C.