New information released earlier this week sheds new light on the Obama Administration’s targeting of conservative groups by the IRS.
Documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by a watchdog group (which can be viewed here) establish that IRS officials “orchestrated a complex scheme to dump conservative and Tea Party non-profit applicants into a bureaucratic ‘black hole.’” Another 294 pages of documents available here also recently released by Judicial Watch further establish that “top IRS officials in Washington, including Lois Lerner and Holly Paz, knew that the agency was specifically targeting “Tea Party” and other conservative organizations two full years before disclosing it to Congress and the public.”
Most reports suggest that the widespread and coordinated attacks on these groups by the IRS began in 2010.
At the ACLJ, we know that it began as early as 2009 when they targeted one of our clients – The Albuquerque Tea Party. This is one of our two clients still awaiting a determination on their application, nearly 7 years after they first applied.
This upcoming December will mark the 7th year anniversary since our client mailed in their application requesting tax-exempt status and the IRS cashed their check. This is outrageous. While the Obama Administration contends that nothing happened and President Obama dismissed the issue years ago as a “phony scandal,” this issue, like many others, is sitting at the very top of a long list of controversies still dogging this Administration.
Unlike others though, this particular issue is still ongoing. These new documents clearly demonstrate why our client, like other groups targeted, has waited so long for a determination.
As they show, the IRS constructed a special group to send all “applications associated with the Tea Party” to called “Group 7822”; designed as a “ “special team apparently developed specifically to snare targeted organizations’ tax exemption requests to ensure that they would “not be approved before the November 2012 presidential election.”
The IRS was able to protect the administration of this group by hiding its operations and activity behind the hundreds of layers of the bureaucracy alive and well within the IRS and the cooperation of other government agencies.
Many of these groups, including many of our clients, were placed on a “Be-on-the-Lookout” (BOLO) list if their name looked like they were a Tea Party affiliated group.
More troubling, these new documents reveal that the IRS advanced a policy based upon those groups on this secret “BOLO” list that “prohibited any groups associated with that document from being automatically approved.”
Once these groups on the list were re-routed to this new ad hoc “Group 7822,” their applications were held by IRS agents until they received direct guidance from officials in Washington, D.C.
At the ACLJ, we have similar documentation that confirms this reality. Our client from Albuquerque was sent a letter, not from a low “level agent in Cincinnati” but from an official at the Department of the Treasury in Washington, D.C. stating that their file was under review. To date, no explanation was given to our client as to why Washington had their file and no determination has ever been made.
An unnamed manager in these new documents commented that “DC is like a black hole.” He was right.
By now, it is clear that the Administration greatly feared the backlash that developed from middle America as grassroots conservative groups from coast to coast began to spontaneously form and organize after ObamaCare was ramrodded through the Congress and passed after a long parade of backroom deals were brokered. In response to this tidal wave of backlash, Washington’s defensive measure against the outrage and calls for accountability at the ballot box culminated in this well orchestrated and well calculated targeting scheme that began with the “blackhole” and backlogs and continues to this day as one of the most effective bureaucratic quashing of grassroots activism this country has ever seen.
We will not stop fighting for justice. Our clients will have their day in court. Since 2013, the ACLJ has represented more than 41 groups from 22 states across the country in our lawsuits against the IRS. Today, we represent 38 groups in federal appeals court seeking to hold the IRS and Obama Administration officials accountable.
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