Kareem Elgazzar | WCPO Digital
Hide Caption

Lawsuit over IRS Tea Party scandal to be filed soon

Liberty Township group plans to join

a a a a
Share this story

CINCINNATI - In what could be the first of multiple lawsuits over the rapidly unfolding IRS scandal, centered squarely in Cincinnati, the American Center for Liberty and Justice in Washington, D.C., plans to file a lawsuit “in the coming days.”

And the Liberty Township Tea Party plans to be among the group’s plaintiffs.

A spokesman for the ACLJ said the organization is determining what type of suit will be filed and what damages the group’s plaintiffs will seek.

But the lawsuit definitely will name the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Internal Revenue Service and “other government officials” as defendants, said Gene Kapp, an ACLJ spokesman.

Liberty Township Tea Party board member Tim Savaglio said that group has sent its information to the ACLJ and is going through the process to formally join the suit.

At issue was the improper targeting of conservative groups with “Tea Party,” “Patriots” or “9/12 Project” in their name that had applied to the IRS for tax-exempt status around two election cycles. The practice apparently started in March 2010, according to an audit written by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

The scandal became national news after Lois Lerner, the head of the IRS office tasked with reviewing applications for tax-exempt status, acknowledged May 10 that the agency had given greater scrutiny to hundreds of groups with those conservative terms in their names.

Lerner’s acknowledgement ignited a political firestorm that continues to rage. Congressional hearings will continue Tuesday and Wednesday and IRS Commissioner Steven Miller was forced to resign. President Barack Obama has promised a full inquiry and insists he learned about the practice from news reports.

The U.S. Department of Justice has launched an investigation to determine whether any crimes were committed. It likely will focus on potential civil rights violations or those related to the Hatch Act, which restricts political activities of government workers.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters’ office has noted that Ohio law, section 2921.45, also makes it illegal for a civil servant to interfere with the civil rights of others. It’s a first-degree misdemeanor.

The scandal has been focused on the IRS Cincinnati office, which determines which organizations are qualified to be tax-exempt. Some organizations waited more than two years and provided reams of additional information before getting their status approved.

The Liberty Township Tea Party has been waiting for more than three years for approval and still doesn’t have it. The audit notes that the IRS' goal for closing tax exempt status cases was 121 days in fiscal year 2012.

The ACLJ continues to hear from groups that want to be included in the lawsuit, Kapp said.

Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Print this article

Comments

Hmm... It looks like you’re not a WCPO Insider. or Subscribe now to contribute!

More On IRS Scandal
House to hold contempt vote on IRS official
House to hold contempt vote on IRS official

A House committee is voting on whether to hold a former Internal Revenue Service official in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer…

Panel refers ex-IRS official to Justice Dept.
Panel refers ex-IRS official to Justice Dept.

The House Ways and Means Committee has voted to refer a former Internal Revenue Service official to the Justice Department for possible…

IRS holding $700 million in unclaimed refunds
IRS holding $700 million in unclaimed refunds

John Matarese looks into why so many people don't claim their tax refund

IRS phone scam targeting thousands
IRS phone scam targeting thousands

John Matarese has a warning about a major tax scam this spring.

Former IRS official refuses to testify
Former IRS official refuses to testify

The former Internal Revenue Service official at the heart of the agency's tea party scandal once again refused to answer questions at a…

Official at center of tea party scandal retiring
Official at center of tea party scandal retiring

The Internal Revenue Service says an official at the center of the agency's tea party scandal is retiring.

Lawmakers demand Lerner turn over emails
Lawmakers demand Lerner turn over emails

House Oversight Committee members want Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner to turn over emails sent from her personal account.

Legislators plan local IRS hearing
Legislators plan local IRS hearing

A state House committee meeting in Cincinnati will hear from Ohioans who believe they were targeted by the Internal Revenue Service because…

Lawsuit 'days away' in IRS scandal
Lawsuit 'days away' in IRS scandal

In what could be the first of multiple lawsuits over the rapidly unfolding IRS scandal, centered squarely in Cincinnati, the American Center…

Local man: Why did IRS single me out?
Local man: Why did IRS single me out?

Justin Binik-Thomas wants answers.