The Tea Party Patriots, the nation’s largest Tea Party organization, sued the IRS and US Treasury for documents on Lois Lerner and the Obama Administration’s secret planning to impose restrictions on citizens’ free speech.
Via the Tea Party Patriots website:
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Tea Party Patriots today filed a lawsuit in US District Court for the District of Columbia against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Treasury, asking the court to force the release of documents shedding light on the agency’s proposal for burdensome regulations for 501c4 citizens groups, and the roles played by former IRS official Lois Lerner and other Administration officials in developing the regulations.
“Americans deserve to know the truth about how the IRS is trying to deprive us and other citizens of our First Amendment rights to free speech. Citizens shouldn’t have to go to court to find out what sort of secret activities their government is up to,” said Tea Party Patriots Co-Founder Jenny Beth Martin. “It’s truly shameful; President Obama promised a transparent government but instead, people have to file lawsuits just to learn the truth.” Tea Party Patriots was among those groups targeted by the IRS for intimidation and delaying the group’s application for tax-exempt status and will be directly impacted by the proposed regulations.
“With Monday’s announcement that the IRS may issue revised regulations for groups such as Tea Party Patriots, getting to the origin of the Administration’s plans to muzzle us becomes even more urgent,” continued Mrs. Martin. “We plan to submit a new FOIA request this week to learn what has transpired behind the scenes since the proposed rules were first issued, and to add new claims to our lawsuit if the IRS and Treasury continue to ignore our requests for information.”
The suit seeks documents relating to the IRS’s “Guidance for Tax Exempt Social Welfare Organizations on Candidate-Related Political Activities,” announced November 29, 2013. To date, the IRS has refused to provide any documents to Tea Party Patriots, which first requested them on December 10, 2013 under the Freedom of Information Act.
“The Proposed Regulations would impose significant burdens and restrictions on the First Amendment activities, speech, and associational rights of every social welfare organization in America,” the suit alleges, arguing that Tea Party Patriots and the public have the right to see any documents related to the IRS proposal. The proposed rulemaking resulted in more than 150,000 public comments, which IRS officials described as a record number of responses to a proposed regulation.
The lawsuit makes note of IRS communications released by the House Ways and Means Committee and charges that, “high ranking individuals within the Treasury and the IRS began as early as June 2012 to develop new regulations “off plan” and in secret.”
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Today the Republican National Committee also filed a lawsuit against the Obama IRS for withholding documents sought by the RNC nearly one year ago.