Nearly three months after former Director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division Lois Lerner admitted that the IRS had targeted conservative groups simply because of their political beliefs, the tax agency is still engaging in the same discriminatory targeting of conservative groups according to the closed-door testimony released Thursday by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.).
The IRS scandal first went public in May when a Treasury Department inspector general revealed the improper political scrutiny. After the story broke, acting head of the IRS, Danny Werfel, claimed that the target list had been suspended. But the recent IRS agent testimony suggests that no new policy was put into place. Consequently, agents continued with the targeting protocol, either because they did not know how else to handle these conservative group tax exempt applications, or were too afraid to make decisions about them.
This new revelation comes on the tail of additional information which surfaced just this month indicating that the IRS may have been providing taxpayer information to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in violation federal law in addition to the IRS's own regulations. FEC Commissioner Don McGahn admitted that he had seen previously undisclosed emails between the IRS and FEC about the IRS targeting scheme. Now lawmakers are demanding that the FEC release records for more than five years of communications with the IRS.
While the 30 day investigation ordered by President Obama has seemingly gone nowhere, the class-action lawsuit against the IRS on behalf of 41 conservative organizations in 22 states filed in June continues to move forward. The complaint claims that the IRS targeted groups that have names which indicate the organizations’ conservative values and viewpoints. Among the violations that the complaint alleges include that the IRS and high ranking IRS officials violated plaintiffs' First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, freedom of association and their Fifth Amendment rights to Equal Protection under the Due Process Clause by imposing on their applications the unconstitutional requirement of heightened scrutiny, issuing unconstitutional and overly intrusive requests for information, and delaying the processing of their applications on the basis of the organizations’ viewpoints.