Sessions apologizes to ‘tea party’ groups
‘Abuse of power will not be tolerated,’ AG declares
The Trump administration this week apologized to hundreds of “tea party” groups — including the Greater Phoenix Tea Party — for how the IRS treated them during the Obama administration.
More than 400 groups were part of two lawsuits alleging the IRS violated their constitutional rights by singling them out based on their political views and creating additional hurdles to achieve tax-exempt status.
This week, the Trump administration agreed to a settlement in the lawsuits, which included payouts for some of the groups and an apology. It’s not clear how much money the groups would receive, though the New York Times reported that one of the lawsuits resulted in a multimillion-dollar settlement.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement that the IRS used “inappropriate criteria” to screen applicants for tax-exempt status during the 2012 election cycle, including targeting names such as “tea party” and “patriots.”
“The IRS’s use of these criteria as a basis for heightened scrutiny was wrong and should never have occurred,” Sessions said in his statement. “It is improper for the IRS to single out groups for different treatment based on their names or ideological positions.”
Sessions said the groups deserve an apology from the IRS. He said he hopes the settlement makes it clear that such an “abuse of power will not be tolerated.”
Eddie Greim, a lawyer representing the tea-party groups, said in a statement that the settlement was “too long in coming.”
“Attorney General Sessions rightly calls this an ‘abuse of power,’ “Greim said in a statement. “The plaintiffs deserve an apology from the IRS. But not even a court can force the IRS to apologize or admit to its wrongdoing.”
Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, was co-founder and former president of the Greater Phoenix Tea Party. She said when the group applied for non-profit status, it was “met with the most vile form of political abuse.”
She said apologies are not sufficient. “Apologies are best left for kindergarten,” she said. “True accountability should be exacted upon this agency. I want to see indictments.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement that the IRS used “inappropriate criteria” to screen applicants for tax-exempt status during the 2012 election cycle.