Federal judge orders IRS to turn over list of targeted Tea Party groups

 A federal judge in Ohio has ordered the IRS to turn over a list of Tea Party groups singled out for special scrutiny after they applied for tax exempt status.

Washington Times:

The IRS had argued it shouldn’t have to release the names because doing do would violate privacy laws, but Judge Susan J. Dlott, who sits in the Southern District of Ohio, rejected that claim and ordered the tax agency to turn over any lists or spreadsheets detailing the groups that were targeted and when they filed their applications.

Judge Dlott also ordered the IRS to say whether a partial list of targeted groups reported by USA Today is authentic as a number of tea party groups try to win certification for a class action lawsuit against the IRS.

“The return information sought is directly related to the issue of class certification in this federal court proceeding,” the judge said. “The names of the putative class member organizations and their control dates — the date which the putative class member organizations submitted their applications for tax exempt status to the IRS — are directly related to the issue of class certification.”

The judge has not yet certified the tea party groups as a class, and the information that they’ve obtained so far through depositions remains under seal. But backers say if they can be certified, then they will begin to try to pry loose some of the key information about how the IRS chose which groups it went after in its targeting.

“We’re at the precipice,” said Mark Meckler, a member of one of the tea party groups suing, and also president of Citizens for Self-Governance, which is funding the litigation.

The Ohio lawsuit is the only major legal jeopardy still remaining in the courts for the IRS — though the agency is still facing an FBI investigation, according to documents obtained by True the Vote, a tea party group, under the Freedom of Information Act.

The IRS will no doubt claim that the excessive workload delayed adjudicating the applications by conservative groups. What the discovery process will seek to uncover is how the IRS acted improperly in deliberately slowing down the applications thus hindering the Tea Party groups from legally participating in elections. 

But can the conservative groups claim that they are a "class" of plaintiff? A group of cancer patients suing a pharm company has no trouble proving their class standing. But because of the nebulous structure of the national tea party movement, it may be more difficult to prove that the groups were injured by the IRS as a class. That is what the judge in Ohio is seeking to determine.

Meanwhile, some Tea Party groups are still waiting for an IRS determination of their tax exempt status. 

 

 A federal judge in Ohio has ordered the IRS to turn over a list of Tea Party groups singled out for special scrutiny after they applied for tax exempt status.

Washington Times:

The IRS had argued it shouldn’t have to release the names because doing do would violate privacy laws, but Judge Susan J. Dlott, who sits in the Southern District of Ohio, rejected that claim and ordered the tax agency to turn over any lists or spreadsheets detailing the groups that were targeted and when they filed their applications.

Judge Dlott also ordered the IRS to say whether a partial list of targeted groups reported by USA Today is authentic as a number of tea party groups try to win certification for a class action lawsuit against the IRS.

“The return information sought is directly related to the issue of class certification in this federal court proceeding,” the judge said. “The names of the putative class member organizations and their control dates — the date which the putative class member organizations submitted their applications for tax exempt status to the IRS — are directly related to the issue of class certification.”

The judge has not yet certified the tea party groups as a class, and the information that they’ve obtained so far through depositions remains under seal. But backers say if they can be certified, then they will begin to try to pry loose some of the key information about how the IRS chose which groups it went after in its targeting.

“We’re at the precipice,” said Mark Meckler, a member of one of the tea party groups suing, and also president of Citizens for Self-Governance, which is funding the litigation.

The Ohio lawsuit is the only major legal jeopardy still remaining in the courts for the IRS — though the agency is still facing an FBI investigation, according to documents obtained by True the Vote, a tea party group, under the Freedom of Information Act.

The IRS will no doubt claim that the excessive workload delayed adjudicating the applications by conservative groups. What the discovery process will seek to uncover is how the IRS acted improperly in deliberately slowing down the applications thus hindering the Tea Party groups from legally participating in elections. 

But can the conservative groups claim that they are a "class" of plaintiff? A group of cancer patients suing a pharm company has no trouble proving their class standing. But because of the nebulous structure of the national tea party movement, it may be more difficult to prove that the groups were injured by the IRS as a class. That is what the judge in Ohio is seeking to determine.

Meanwhile, some Tea Party groups are still waiting for an IRS determination of their tax exempt status.