ACLJ: White House Account of IRS Abuses 'Does Not Square With the Facts'

May 23, 2013 - 7:30 AM

tea party

Conservative tea party groups say they were singled out for inappropriate scrutiny and intrusive questions after requesting tax-exempt status from the IRS. (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - A conservative civil liberties group says the Obama White House was incorrect when it said the IRS targeting of conservative groups ended a year ago.

“It’s apparent this White House continues to try and create a narrative that simply does not square with the facts,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice. The ACLJ is representing 27 tear party groups that were subjected to inappropriate scrutiny by the IRS.

“Without question the IRS misconduct of harassing and abusing our clients was still in high gear from May 2012 through May of this year. The intrusive and unconstitutional questions continued –- with the IRS demanding donor lists and even requesting lists of what reading materials that organizations used. To suggest this tactic ended a year ago is not only offensive, but it is simply inaccurate as well.”

At Monday's White House press briefing, spokesman Jay Carney told reporters the IRS "misconduct had stopped in May of 2012."

But the ACLJ says the most recent IRS letter, sent to the group “Linchpins of Liberty,” was dated May 6th, 2013, only four days before the IRS publicly disclosed the activity for which it is now under fire.

“Either Jay Carney is not getting the information from the right people, which is possible; or this is just an entire scheme to make the timeline so complicated that finally people, in their strategy, will walk away," Sekulow told CNSNews.com. "There’s so much evidence that...they know about, because we’ve got it.  Why is he making these broad statements ‘Well, since May 2012 there’s been no problem’?”

ACLJ says 15 of its 27 clients have been granted tax-exempt status. Ten others still have not received an answer from the IRS on their request for tax-exempt status. And two of the organizations have since withdrawn their applications because they are financially incapable of dealing with the drawn-out inquiry.

And despite the assertion by the IRS that this scheme originated with a couple of rogue agents out of the Cincinnati office, the ACLJ says its clients have received letters not only from Cincinnati, but also from two offices in California as well as the national office in Washington, D.C. "In fact, the Washington office sent a letter to one of our clients as recently as one month ago," Sekulow said.

In several letters sent to "Linchpins of Liberty," the IRS demanded the minutes of all board meetings, a list of issues that are important to the organization, a list of press releases, interviews with the news media, and blog posts, including all activity on Facebook and Twitter.

The IRS also questioned the group's goal, which is to restore and preserve ordered liberty in local communities. The IRS wanted information about the content of courses, workshops and seminars organized by the group, even calling for specifics about what kind of information would be taught to young people. That organization’s tax-exempt status is still pending after nearly two-and-a-half years.

“That’s viewpoint discrimination," Sekulow said. "The IRS’ job is not to create new laws, but it is to enforce.  That’s a very sound constititional principle in the freedom of speech, in the idea that the government cannot disciminate against you or target you because of your specific viewpoints, whether you are on the left or the right.”

The ACLJ is preparing a federal lawsuit to be filed in Washington, D.C. on behalf of a number of clients – including new groups that have approached the ACLJ in recent days. The lawsuit is expected to be filed early next week.