White House may be satisfied with IRS non-answers, but targeted Americans aren’t

Matthew Clark Associate Counsel, American Center for Law and Justice
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At a press conference on Wednesday, a reporter asked White House Press Secretary Jay Carney a simple question: Is the administration “satisfied with the responsiveness” of Internal Revenue Service officials who have been called to testify before Congress?

Before we take a look at how Carney answered that question, let’s recap what we’ve learned from IRS testimony about the scandal. As I explained last week: Former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman testified that he didn’t know anything about it and didn’t do anything about it when he found out; former IRS Acting Commissioner Steven Miller couldn’t remember what he knew or what he did about it; and Lois Lerner, the exempt organizations division director who is now on paid leave, testified that she didn’t do anything wrong and then pled the Fifth. On the whole, we’ve learned absolutely nothing from the IRS officials who have testified so far.

Now for President Obama’s spokesman’s answer to whether the White House is satisfied with the IRS’s obfuscation of the truth: “[T]he answer is yes, and in specific to this matter the answer is yes.”

Congress is not satisfied. The American people are not satisfied. Nearly 100,000 Americans have signed the American Center for Law and Justice’s petition expressing their dissatisfaction with how the IRS is handling this scandal. And those targeted by the IRS are certainly not satisfied with this ongoing abuse of government authority.

As The Daily Caller reported, the ACLJ has just filed a lawsuit on behalf of 25 of these targeted groups to get real answers from the IRS and stop the unconstitutional abuse.

It’s now abundantly clear that the Obama administration has no interest in cooperating with Congress. A federal lawsuit is the only way to hold the IRS truly accountable to the citizen-led groups that it has targeted — and is still targeting.

The fact remains that while the IRS and White House have both emphatically stated that the “misconduct had stopped in May of 2012,” their assertion is flat wrong.

To understand how the IRS targeting continues today, you must first understand what the IRS actually did.

The IRS targeted conservative groups for heightened scrutiny based on their names and policy positions. These targeted groups were sent unconstitutionally intrusive inquiry letters (including by Lois Lerner herself). The IRS then unlawfully delayed for years any approval determination of the tax-exempt status of these organizations.

However, to this day, the IRS hasn’t purposefully removed from this inquiry process any of the original groups that it admitted to improperly targeting. Our clients have received targeted inquiry letters as recently as this month. Regardless of whatever the IRS policy toward conservative groups is moving forward, the conservative groups it first targeted are still being targeted. Many, including 10 of the ACLJ’s clients, still have yet to receive any determination from the IRS. In fact, two of our clients were so burdened by the IRS’s onerous and targeted inquiry that they gave up their attempt to obtain tax-exempt status.

It’s clear the IRS won’t end its unconstitutional actions unless it’s forced to do so by a court of law. Our lawsuit simply aims to stop the abuse, bring the facts to light to prevent future unlawful targeting, and make these citizen-led groups whole — to defend their constitutional rights.

President Obama’s satisfaction with the IRS’s non-answers to Congress — the People’s House — shows that his administration isn’t the least bit serious about getting to the truth or stopping violations of the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens.

We are very serious.

Matthew Clark is associate counsel for government affairs and media advocacy with the American Center for Law and Justice. Follow him on Twitter at @_MatthewClark.