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Wetumpka Tea Party founder Becky Gerritson gets a standing ovation May 20 after a week of media appearances in the wake of news the IRS targeted WTP and other groups due to their conservative politics.

Lawsuit filed on behalf of Wetumpka Tea Party in IRS scandal

Published 11:29am Thursday, May 30, 2013

The American Center for Law and Justice, a Washington D.C.-based law firm, filed a lawsuit Thursday on behalf of the Wetumpka Tea Party and 24 other conservative groups against the IRS, Attorney General Eric Holder, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and other officials for the delays and probing investigations into the groups’ applications for tax-exempt status.

An IRS official admitted earlier this month that conservative groups were singled out for “additional scrutiny” in their applications for 501(c)4 status due specifically to their ideological standing, with keywords like “tea party” and “patriots” flagged for special treatment. Wetumpka Tea Party President Becky Gerritson announced at the group’s May 20 meeting that she had signed a retainer on WTP’s behalf with ACLJ chief counsel Jay Sekulow.

The announcement drew a standing ovation from the more than 100 local conservatives. The usual two month application for the special tax-exempt status for political groups stretched more than two years, during the run-up to the 2012 presidential election. The Wetumpka group was eventually granted the tax exempt status, but the approval came just a few months ago, well after the re-election of President Barack Obama.

From the ACLJ’s press release:

“The American Center for Law and Justice today filed a significant lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C. on behalf of 25 Tea Party and conservative organizations against the U.S. Attorney General, Treasury Secretary, and Internal Revenue Service – including top IRS officials.

“The IRS and the federal government are not going to get away with this unlawful targeting of conservative groups,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ. “As this unconstitutional scheme continues even today, the only way to stop this flagrant and arrogant abuse of our clients’ rights is to file a federal lawsuit which we have done. The lawsuit sends a very powerful message to the IRS and the Obama Administration – including the White House: Americans are not going to be bullied and intimidated by our government. They will not be subjected to unconstitutional treatment and unlawfully singled out and punished because of their ideological beliefs. Those responsible for this unprecedented intimidation ploy must be held accountable.”

The lawsuit, posted here, urges the court to find that the Obama Administration overstepped its authority and violated the First and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, the Administrative Procedure Act, as well as violating the IRS’s own rules and regulations. The lawsuit requests a declaratory judgment that the defendants unlawfully delayed and obstructed the organizations applications for a determination of tax-exempt status by means of conduct that was based on unconstitutional criteria and impermissibly disparate treatment of the groups. The suit also seeks injunctive relief to protect our clients – and their officers and directors – from further IRS abuse or retaliation. Further, the lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive monetary damages to be determined at trial at a later date.”

We’ll have additional details and reaction in Saturday’s edition of Elmore County Weekend.

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