The IRS is agreeing to a settlement in a case alleging Greater Cincinnati employees targeted Tea Party groups for their political beliefs. Plaintiff's attorney Eddie Greim says the government will pay "seven figures" to more than 400 groups to settle NorCal Tea Party Patriots v. Internal Revenue Service.
The IRS is also settling with 41 parties in the related case of Linchpins of Liberty v. United States.
Greim says IRS screeners in Cincinnati would flag tax-exempt status requests from certain organizations. Employees in Covington would then set aside the 501 (c) 4 applications, further delaying them. He says as many as 100 employees touched the applications but far fewer were responsible for the delays.
Initially Greim says the IRS told him it was just a few rogue employees in Cincinnati, but he says he found evidence of wrongdoing also in Washington D.C.
After filing the applications the Tea Party groups would not hear back for a very long time, according to Greim. "Then the passage of time gave the groups more to ask the groups because there was a longer period of time of which to investigate. And then the additional information the groups gave led to more questions and it eventually snowballed into the disaster that occurred."
The IRS forwarded media requests for comments to the Justice Department.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the settlement Thursday. "There is no excuse for this conduct. Hundreds of organizations were affected by these actions, and they deserve an apology from the IRS. We hope that today's settlement makes clear that this abuse of power will not be tolerated."
Five groups filed the case in May 2013:
- NorCal Tea Party Patriots
- South Dakota Citizens for Liberty
- Americans Against Oppressive Laws
- San Angelo Tea Party
- Texas Patriots Tea Party