The first target of the IRS to testify before the House regarding the federal agency’s delay and obstruction of his group’s application for tax-exempt status says the U.S. District Court’s dismissal last Thursday of a lawsuit filed by Linchpins of Liberty against the IRS conveys the message that the government is “free to violate our rights.”
Kevin Kookogey, president and founder of Linchpins of Liberty, an educational leadership development group, was the first target of the IRS to testify before the House Ways & Means Committee regarding how the federal agency unlawfully delayed and obstructed his application for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. Linchpins of Liberty filed its application in January of 2011 and has been represented in its lawsuit against the IRS by Jay Sekulow and the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ), which represents 41 conservative and pro-life organizations from 22 states that were targeted by the IRS.
“Imagine if the shoe were on the other foot, and instead of the government obstructing and violating a citizen’s rights, it is a taxpayer dodging and delaying payment of his or her taxes,” Kookogey told Breitbart News. “Does anyone believe that the court would dismiss the IRS’ demands for penalties and interest?”
As ACLJ states, the court actually dismissed two lawsuits, brought on behalf of conservative groups who were targeted by the IRS. ACLJ continues:
Unfortunately, the court’s ruling is based on what we believe is a mistaken interpretation of the law that would allow corruption to continue unfettered at the highest levels of federal government and deny justice to those who had their constitutional rights violated.
Regarding the court’s decision, ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow responded by asserting, “The decision by the court is disappointing. However, it does not deter our efforts to seek justice for our clients. We are reviewing the decision and plan to appeal.”
With the court’s dismissal of most of the plaintiffs’ claims, ACLJ states the decision could lead to “dangerous results” because of its reliance upon three key rulings.
First, ACLJ notes that, based on the trial court’s ruling, the decision holds that Lois Lerner and other prominent IRS officials named in the lawsuit “cannot be held accountable in their individual capacity for decisions made in targeting conservatives as part of their ‘official’ duties at the IRS.”
The danger in this case is that it would be nearly impossible to ever hold IRS officials specifically accountable for targeting individuals and would essentially grant them privilege of abuse of power.
Second, the trial court’s ruling was based on the Obama Administration’s assurances that the targeting of conservative groups had stopped. After years of delay, since the IRS ultimately approved most of the groups, and promised not to engage in targeting again, the plaintiffs’ point, as far as the court is concerned, is irrelevant.
Third, the court ruled that the IRS’s demand for donor lists and other information from the groups applying for tax-exempt status does not violate the law.
As ACLJ observes:
If the federal government can unconstitutionally target a group of citizens for their beliefs with the overwhelming power of the IRS and as long as it promises not to do it again, even through it is still harassing many of the original targets, it can get away with it, that would lead to a whole host of unmitigated abuse the likes of which we have never seen. In fact, by the court’s reasoning, the IRS could refuse to approve a group for years until it is sued and then approve the group at the last minute with no recourse to those targeted Americans. Remember, justice delayed is justice denied.
“The court also seems to have no concern for the government’s mendacity, ignoring the games the IRS played with our lives by obstructing and delaying our tax exempt status and harassing us for as long as possible — as long as they could get away with it,” said Kookogey, a Heritage Foundation Associate. “This is all before conveniently issuing our letter of determination right at the last minute before filing an Answer with the court. Does anyone believe this was not deliberate?”
“The unequivocal message from this court is that the government is apparently free to violate our rights and crush our liberties, provided that once caught — if caught — the conduct must stop,” he added. “But no penalty will be imposed. Stunning.”