Breaking: A Broad-Based IRS Assault on the Tea Party? | American Center for Law and Justice
  Search  |  Login  |  Register

Broad-Based IRS Assault on Tea Party?

By David French1330723830000

In the last 24 hours, my colleagues at the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) have been in contact with literally dozens of tea party organizations that have received intrusive information demands from the IRS, demands that seriously implicate their First Amendment rights. These information demands follow Tea Party requests for 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) status and include questions like the following:

Do you directly or indirectly communicate with members of legislative bodies? If so, provide copies of the written communications and contents of other forms of communications.


Please describe the associate group members and their role with your organization in further detail. (a) How does your organization solicit members? (b) What are the questions asked of potential members? (c) What are the selection criteria for approval? (d) Do you limit membership to other organizations exempt under 501(c)(4) of the Code? (e) Provide the name, employer identification number, and address of the organizations.


Do you have a close relationship with any candidate for public office or political party? If so describe fully the nature of that relationship.

The quoted requests are merely the tip of the iceberg. We're still reviewing the IRS letters and will have more information as we complete our review. Each of these questions -- in their content, breadth, and vagueness -- implicate the free speech rights of the affected Tea Party groups. Moreover, such intrusive membership requests also run afoul of NAACP v. Alabama and implicate their rights to freedom of association.

Critically, the demands we've seen are made not in response to complaints of wrongdoing but instead in response to applications for exemption. In other words, the IRS appears to be conditioning the grant of exemptions on the extensive violation of the Tea Party's fundamental First Amendment freedoms.

As I said, our review is ongoing, but the early indications are the IRS is using the routine process of seeking and granting tax exemptions to undertake a sweeping, top-down review of the internal workings of the Tea Party movement in the United States. Such a review is far beyond its mission and directly implicates the First Amendment rights of all citizens.

This article is crossposted at National Review Online.

Latest in
Free Speech

Angry Atheists Try to Ban Gideon Bibles

By Jay Sekulow1447350056745

The virulently anti-Christian Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is at it once again. What are these atheists so angry about this time? Apparently, Gideon Bibles resting in hotel table drawers are just too much to bear for the self-proclaimed freethinkers, atheists, and agnostics at FFRF.

read more

Why We Need a Special Counsel Now

By Jay Sekulow1445956969389

When I heard the news that the Department of Justice (DOJ) was closing its investigation into former top IRS official Lois Lerner – who’s at the heart of the unlawful targeting scandal of conservative and Tea Party groups – two thoughts came to mind. First, the decision not to bring any criminal...

read more

Obama DOJ Closes Faux Investigation of IRS Targeting Scandal – No Criminal Charges

By Jay Sekulow1445631194865

President Obama’s Justice Department has just announced that it is closing the investigation into the IRS targeting scandal and that Lois Lerner will not face any criminal charges for her actions. What investigation? This faux investigation, conducted by one of President Obama’s top donors , was...

read more

Blatant Moral Injustice: Bergdahl vs. Martland

By Matthew Clark1444752065213

It’s a moral contradiction like no other. Bowe Bergdahl stands accused of deserting his post to cavort with the enemy. Sergeant Charles Martland stands accused of forcefully removing a child rapist from a U.S. military base in order to defend a child. Bergdahl was treated as a hero by the Obama...

read more