NorCal Tea Party leads federal suit against IRS

The NorCal Tea Party is the lead plaintiff in a class-action federal lawsuit filed today in Cincinnati against the Internal Revenue Service, seeking damages for what they call “illegal and harassing behavior in the handling and processing of their applications for nonprofit status.”

NorCal Tea PartyThe NorCal Tea Party, based in the Placer County city of Colfax, is an umbrella group to local chapters across the Golden State’s northern half. Helping it file this lawsuit is Citizens for Self-Governance, a Texas-based group founded and led by Grass Valley attorney Mark Meckler, a co-founder and former national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots.

Meckler and NorCal Tea Party President Ginny Rapini are scheduled to hold a news conference tomorrow, Tuesday, May 21, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

“We stand shoulder to shoulder with all those known and unknown who have been abused by a federal government run amok,” Meckler said. “Instead of just playing defense, it is time for the citizens to go on offense. We are, after all, ‘We the People.’ And when the federal government runs amok, it is up to us reign it in. Neither party in Congress can be relied upon to satisfactorily resolve this issue. They created the IRS, fund the IRS, and oversee the IRS. All of this abuse happened on their watch.”

The IRS’ apparent targeting of conservative groups for special scrutiny about tax-exempt status is dogging the White House and setting the Capitol’s corridors ablaze with anger.

The lawsuit says the NorCal Tea Party “came together to exercise their right to free expression.”

“However, under pain of denial of tax-exempt status, the IRS and its agents singled out groups like NorCal Tea Party Patriots for intensive and intrusive scrutiny, probing their members’ associates, speech, activities, and beliefs,” the complaint says. “NorCal and its members suffered years of delay and expense while awaiting the exemption and spending valuable time and money answering the IRS’s questions. The result was a muffling and muzzling of free expression.”

The suit seeks damages for violation of the Privacy Act and of the NorCal Tea Party members’ constitutional rights, “including damages for loss of benefit of tax exempt status, cost of complying with burdensome requests, loss of donors and membership fees, damages for impairment of constitutionally protected rights, punitive damages, litigation costs, and reasonable attorney’s fees.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR senile columnist

    Barry! Joe B! U can’t hide!
    We charge you with Dissent-o-cide!

  • JAFO

    Really? “…apparent targeting of conservative groups for special scrutiny…” Are you serious? The IRS has already admitted the misguided effort and apologized for it in response to a carefully planted question from an audience member. When will you be comfortable dropping the “apparent” journalistic fig leaf?

  • Elwood

    Here is the O’bummer administration approved response to all the scandals they are ass deep in:

    “We didn’t do it, we didn’t do it, we didn’t do it and besides it was a long time ago!”

  • JohnW

    I wonder if liberal groups that were also subjected to scrutiny as part of the same program will sue too.

    I think any conservative group that was denied 501c4 status should definitely sue. That would be zero.

    Of course, there appears to be a valid claim that some groups were delayed by this process to the extent that they weren’t able to have an impact in the 2012 elections. Okay. But here’s my point. To qualify, the groups are supposed to be primarily social welfare organizations, not primarily political. So, if they complain that delays prevented them from influencing the 2012 election, doesn’t that suggest that they were up to their eyeballs in politics, which should have not just delayed them, but disqualified them.

  • Charlie Peters

    Audit the fed