The American Center for Law and Justice Tuesday added 16 additional tea party and conservative groups to their original 25 organization lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service — bringing the number of groups in their court challenge to 41.
“The floodgates opened after we filed our initial lawsuit,” ACLJ chief counsel Jay Sekulow said. “We have been contacted by many additional organizations that have been unlawfully targeted by the IRS — revealing that this unconstitutional scheme was pervasive and damaging to our clients.”
ACLJ is arguing that the IRS unfairly targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status for extra scrutiny, delaying applications, making “unconstitutional” requests for information such as donor lists, Internet passwords and user names, copies of social media activities and the political activities of family members.
Of the now 41 groups 19 of the organizations received their tax-exempt status after long delays, 17 are still waiting, and 5 withdrew due to frustration over the process.
ACLJ believes the Obama administration, by targeting these groups violated First and Fifth Amendment of the Constitution as well as the the Administrative Procedure Act, and the rules and regulations governing the IRS. They are seeking injunctive relief to protect their clients from retaliation as well as compensatory and punitive monetary damages.
A pro-life group is among the groups added to the suit today. AMEN (Abortion Must End Now) of Yuma, Arizona received a letter from the IRS in October of 2010 questioning whether their goals to educate about the effects of abortion would be acceptable. The group’s tax-exempt application is still pending.
“Now we have evidence that the IRS is somehow uniquely qualified to make a determination about content and regulate how a pro-life organization can explain its mission and beliefs,” Sekulow said of the IRS’ questions to AMEN. “Imagine the outcry if Planned Parenthood or NARAL was subjected to this abuse. This is another blatant example of an IRS out of control — an agency that embraces unlawful and unconstitutional conduct.”
Another group added to the complaint, the Arlington Tea Party of Arlington, Texas, received an IRS request for a “a temporary Username and Password that we could use to review your organization’s website” as well as print outs of its social media pages, fundraising solicitations, workshop materials, and handouts.
The group applied for tax-exempt status in 2011.They are still waiting for approval.