The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has offered election integrity group True The Vote its tax-exempt status in what appears to be a bid to keep the group from proceeding with discovery on its lawsuit against the agency, Breitbart News has learned exclusively.
“We are pleased and relieved that the IRS and the DOJ are finally doing what should have been done three years ago, which is to recognize TTV as a charitable and educational organization, which we have always been and will continue to be,” True The Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht said in a statement provided exclusively to Breitbart News.
In July 2010, True The Vote filed an application with the IRS seeking 501(c)3 tax exempt status. After discovering in May 2013 that its application was part of the bigger IRS scandal targeting Tea Party organizations, True The Vote filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Washington, D.C. requesting that its tax-exempt status application be approved.
The IRS granted the tax-exempt status on Friday night and then filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit all in the same document. True The Vote is accepting the tax-exempt status, but will file a counter motion to continue fighting the other counts of the lawsuit against the IRS. Those other counts deal with civil rights and privacy issues and could lead to the IRS being forced to turn over more documents heading into full discovery.
Cleta Mitchell, a partner at the law firm Foley & Lardner LLP and the lead counsel on behalf of True The Vote’s lawsuit, which has ActRight Legal Foundation representing it in court, said the group will continue to fight the IRS for the full discovery.
“While we are glad the IRS has realized TTV’s tax exempt status should be granted and is now moving to rectify its failure to do sooner, this case is far from moot,” Mitchell said in a statement provided to Breitbart News. “There are still many questions to be answered, such as: When is the IRS going to actually issue its letter granting tax exempt status to True the Vote?”
“What about the costs and damages incurred by True the Vote for the past three years while the IRS unlawfully delayed issuing the letter of recognition?” Mitchell continued. “What about all of the confidential and proprietary information sought and demanded from True the Vote that the Treasury Inspector General has stated was not necessary for determining True the Vote’s eligibility for exempt status, and which is now apparently going to be made public? What about the violation of True the Vote’s constitutional rights by the IRS and its agents and employees during the course of these last 3 years?”
“This lawsuit is about getting to the truth and we are not going to stop until we find out the answers to these and many other questions,” Mitchell added.
Engelbrecht added that this is about more than just True The Vote’s tax exempt status, which has now been finally rectified. “If the IRS is right in its arguments that the IRS can violate the citizens’ constitutional rights and there is no ‘check’ on its power to do so, then the American people need to know that,” Engelbrecht said. “I cannot believe, as an American citizen, that the IRS is above the law and I refuse to accept that a citizen has no remedy against the IRS for the kinds of things it has done to our group these past three years. This case is just getting started.”
This latest development in True the Vote’s case comes as the chief official at the IRS behind the targeting of Tea Party organizations, Lois Lerner, retires from her post. “Lois Lerner, the Internal Revenue Service official at the center of the agency’s tea party scandal, is retiring, the agency confirmed Monday,” the Associated Press reported early Monday. “Lerner headed the IRS division that handles applications for tax-exempt status when she was placed on paid leave in May. While she was in charge, the agency acknowledged that agents improperly targeted tea party groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status from 2010 to 2012.”