The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller
             Tea Party member holds a sign during a tea party rally protesting extra IRS scrutiny of their groups, Tuesday, May 21, 2013, in Philadelphia. Tea party groups and other groups are urging activists across the country to demonstrate at their local Internal Revenue Service offices. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Conservative group’s lawsuit targets IRS employees personally

True the Vote is not only suing the IRS, but also taking action against the IRS employees who participated in the harassment of the voter education and election monitoring organization. Those employees could personally be held liable to pay damages that would be established in litigation.

True the Votes’ lead counsel, Cleta Mitchell, explained in an email to The Daily Caller that she does not know whether the employees, if found to be liable in the lawsuit True the Vote filed against the IRS and its employees Tuesday, would pay out of pocket or take other avenues such as accessing union funds or homeowners insurance. Either way, she noted, the group will pursue its action.

“[T]heir unlawful actions caused my clients to have to come up with the money to deal with their demands…out of their own personal finances… They didn’t seem to worry / care about that,” Mitchell wrote to TheDC. “Government employees never do care about the costs to private citizens of their burdensome demands….”

Founder and president of True the Vote Catherine Engelbrecht explained in a conference call Thursday morning that in July of 2010 her organization filed an application for tax exemption. The request has been in limbo since then.

“During that time we have been subjected to multiple rounds of questions, all told I would say in excess of several hundred questions and thousands of documents provided back to the IRS,” she said. “With no real end in sight.”

After her organization’s most recent round of questions following the November 2012 elections, Engelbrecht said that she and Mitchell began discussing other legal options.

“That ultimately led us to a place where we felt like we had no other options but to file suit against the IRS and to ask the courts to now get involved to grant our long-awaited tax exempt status,” she said adding she also hoped to reveal the IRS employees’ involvement in her organization’s plight.

True the Vote filed a lawsuit against the IRS and some of its employees on Tuesday.

Mitchell explained that she and Engelbrecht had been discussing suing the IRS to obtain tax-exempt status even before the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration released his report on the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups.

“An applicant for 501(c)(3) status is allowed under federal law to go to court if the IRS has not issued a letter of determination within 270 days, so we were well past that deadline,” she said.

Mitchell said that they have also added charges to the complaint seeking to address the potential violation of a federal statute that prohibits IRS employees from unauthorized inspection or dissemination of confidential taxpayer information.