November 17, 2017
    Settled: Justice Dept. admits to bad conduct by IRS toward conservative groups

    7-figure total payout to some 400 groups in one of the suits


    The U.S. Justice Department yesterday brought to a close two lawsuits by conservative groups that charged they were targeted for intrusive scrutiny, dating back to 2013. The government admitted to targeting in one lawsuit and settled with a multimillion payout in the other.

    Placing blame on “the last administration,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the targeting “was wrong and should never have occurred,” and that the groups were owed an apology by the IRS after years of poor treatment and refusal to concede bad behavior.

    “There is no excuse for this conduct. Hundreds of organizations were affected by these actions, and they deserve an apology from the IRS,” Sessions said. The groups say they have yet to receive an apology, but in a consent order filed on Oct. 25 the IRS acknowledged and apologized for its past misconduct.

    In the class-action suit involving more than 400 groups, there will be “generous” payouts totaling seven figures. In the other suit, brought by 41 groups, the government admitted that the IRS targeted groups because of their political beliefs.

    The bad behavior included targeting groups with “patriot,” “tea party” or “9/12” in their names. These groups experienced delays in their applications for nonprofit status, including the IRS asking for more information of the groups than was required.

    At a 2013 meeting of the American Bar Association, Lois Lerner, then-director of the Exempt Organizations division of the IRS, admitted that there was inappropriate flagging of conservative groups. This started the firestorm which eventually led to her resignation as well as then-acting IRS commissioner Steven Miller. Current IRS commissioner John Koskinen also received criticism for his subsequent handling of the situation, though he remains in the position. His term ends in November.

    A report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration that was released in September found that the IRS also targeted left-leaning groups with “occupy” and “progressive” in their names.

    - from staff and media reports

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