Today, U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton threw out two lawsuits filed by tea party organizations which claimed the IRS had somehow brutalized them by investigating their applications for tax-exempt status rather than rubber-stamping them.
True the Vote, an offshoot of the Tea Party-affiliated King Street Patriots, had its application as a social welfare group help up because the IRS suspected it was engaging in direct political election campaigning, which is forbidden under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code. IRS agents found that its web site contained “Democratic attacks and Republican/conservative response,” according to confidential IRS documents obtained by USA TODAY.
It’s worth reiterating here that True The Vote (TTV) was clearly engaged in exactly the kind of political activities that Congress expressly prohibited tax-exempt entities from conducting when they wrote the laws, but which have nevertheless been allowed by decades of lenient IRS administrative practice. Thus the entire controversy arises from nonprofit groups who expected the IRS to not enforce the laws on them at all, and which then took umbrage when the IRS actually did its job.
Judge Walton’s opinion highlights the way TTV feigned outrage over IRS document demands instead of seeking the legal relief available in law:
The plaintiff’s real bone of contention is that the defendants allegedly demanded “information [that] was not necessary for determining [the plaintiff]’s [tax-]exempt status,” and then inspected it. […] Although the plaintiff is upset about the defendants’ inspection of its tax return information, it is actually the defendants’ alleged unconstitutional conduct in acquiring that information that forms the basis of count four of the complaint. But, unfortunately for the plaintiff, Section 6103 is silent as to how tax return information can be acquired. Even assuming that the defendants improperly acquired the plaintiff’s tax return information, that does not compel a finding that such information was improperly inspected. In the Court’s view, there is a clear dichotomy between the means by which tax return information is acquired and the disclosure or inspection of that information thereafter.
Of course, this will not put the matter to rest for TTV, tea parties, or the conservative media echo chamber. The fact that no ‘smoking gun’ exists in the 67,000 Lois Lerner emails that have already been released has not dampened speculation about her whether one exists in her unrecoverable emails that were lost in a hard drive crash. The entire point of the so-called ‘IRS scandal’ has nothing to do with laws or evidence; it is purely a product of the right’s overweening desire to feel persecuted by President Obama.
After all, TTV is an organization devoted to stopping ‘the wrong people’ (minorities and Democrats) from voting. To call that a “freedom movement” with a straight face requires the speaker to live in a fully-formed fantasy world where the nation’s first black president spends all day, every day persecuting whitey.