Congress has begun an investigation into intrusive and unconstitutional letters sent by the Obama Administration’s IRS to Tea Party and other conservative groups.
Representatives Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Jim Jordan, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending, have sent the IRS a letter demanding it account for its recent “overreach and selective enforcement” of rules governing the tax exempt status of certain conservative and Tea Party organizations.
Last month, we told you that we have been contacted by and now represent dozens of Tea Party groups across the United States which have received intrusive and blatantly unconstitutional letters demanding personal information about the groups’ members and volunteers. More than 42,000 Americans signed our petition urging Congress to investigate these IRS bully tactics. Members of the Senate and now the House of Representatives are demanding answers from the IRS.
The Issa-Jordan letter calls into question the IRS’s 2012 work plan “‘to ensure that [certain groups] have classified themselves correctly and that they are complying with applicable rules.’” It notes that while several liberal groups were asked for comment about the IRS’s “heightened scrutiny” of 501(c)(4) organizations, “none had received the recently-sent questionnaire.” This fact furthers the concern that the IRS is intentionally and directly targeting only conservative organizations under the cover of “heightened scrutiny.”
The letter states, “Given the potentially serious implications of IRS overreach and selective enforcement of IRS’s 2012 work plan pertaining to 501(c)(4), 501(c)(5), and 501(c)(6) organizations, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform requests that the IRS provide information about the IRS’s plan for 501(c)(4), 501(c)(5), and 501(c)(6) organizations and the questionnaire.”
The IRS has until Monday, April 16, 2012 to respond and provide detailed information to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform about the nature and purpose of these intrusive inquiries.
The Committee demands, among other things, that the IRS provide a list of all organizations to which these intrusive questionnaires were sent and how long their application has been pending, communications with elected officials regarding these inquiries, and a “list of the objective criteria the IRS used for determining which groups would be sent these types of questionnaires.”
The Committee demands that the IRS provide specific authority for particularly violative questions which it calls “beyond the scope of IRS Form 1024,” including:
Our Tea Party clients received many of these and other similarly obtrusive demands from the IRS that violate their First Amendment rights.
The ACLJ is encouraged by the Committee’s investigation of the IRS’s intimidation of conservative groups. We will continue to keep you informed about our representation of these organizations and further developments in this situation
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