Six conservative groups told their Internal Revenue Service tax-exempt troubles to members of Congress earlier this week. Now 25 of them, including the four Tea Party groups whose representatives testified before the Ways and Means Committee, are suing Uncle Sam.
In addition to citing the IRS itself, the suit names former IRS Deputy Commissioner Steven Miller, suspended Exempt Organization's (EO) head Lois Lerner, former EO Technical Unit Acting Manager Holly Paz and "unknown named officials" at the tax agency.
Attorney General Eric Holder and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew also are listed as defendants.
The law suit, filed by the American Center for Law and Justice, contends that the federal agency and U.S. officials violated not only IRS rules and regulations, but also the First and Fifth Constitutional Amendments protecting free speech and equal protection under the due process clause, respectively, and the Administrative Procedure Act.
The Tea Party groups are asking that the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issue a declaratory judgment against the IRS et al because they "unlawfully delayed and obstructed Plaintiffs' applications for a determination of tax-exempt status by means of conduct that was based on unconstitutional criteria."
The groups also are seeking financial damages. They want $1,000 for each unauthorized IRS inspection of their applications.
And they are requesting that a jury, not a judge, hear their case.
Who's suing? The groups named in the lawsuit are:
Patriots Educating Concerned Americans Now of Redding, Calif.;
GreenwichTea Party Patriots of South Jersey or Woodstown, N.J.;
Greater Phoenix Tea Party Patriots of Chandler, Ariz.;
Unite in Action of Livonia, Mich.;
Allen Area Patriots of Lucas, Texas;
Northeast Tarrant Tea Party of Irving, Texas;
Myrtle Beach Tea Party of Conway, S.C.;
Albuquerque Tea Party of Albuquerque, N.M.;
Colorado 9/12 Project of Denver, Colo.;
San Antonio Tea Party of San Antonio, Texas;
OKC PIA Association of Newalla, Ok.;
Richmond Tea Party of Richmond, Va.;
Hawaii Tea Party dba Maui Tea Party of Kahului, Hawaii;
Shelby Country Liberty Group of Sidney, Ohio;
Manassas Tea Party of Manassas, Va.;
The Honolulu Tea Party of Honolulu, Hawaii;
Waco Tea Party of Waco, Texas;
Kentucky 9/13 Project of Georgetown, Ky.;
Portage Country Tea Party of Kent, Ohio;
Chattanooga Tea Party of Ooltewah, Tenn.;
American Patriots Against Government Excess of Fremont, Ohio;
Lauren County Tea Party of Laurens, S.C.;
Wetumpka Tea Party of Wetumpka, Ala.;
San Fernando Valley Patriots of Encino, Calif.; and
Linchpins of Liberty of Franklin, Tenn.
Representatives from those last four groups appeared before the Ways and Means Committee on June 4. You can click their linked names above to read their prepared testimonies.
Of the 25 groups participating in the suit, 13 organizations received tax-exempt status after prolonged delays, 10 applications are pending and two, after becoming frustrated with the process, withdrew their applications.
Additional groups are likely to be added as the case proceeds.You also might find these items of interest: