The 2013 IRS targeting scandal may finally be catching up with those behind it.
Former IRS head Lois Lerner famously pleaded the Fifth when summoned before Congress to testify about the scandal, and eventually resigned from her position not long after. Another three years would pass before the IRS came clean, releasing a list of 426 conservative organizations for which they stalled granting tax exempt status (more than the 298 groups initially believed to have been targeted). During her final three years heading the IRS, only one conservative group had been approved for non-profit status.
Despite the massive controversy over the targeting, four years have gone by without much advance — until now.
According to Fox News:
A federal judge has ordered the Internal Revenue Service to release the names of specific employees involved in targeting Tea Party groups, after years of litigation over what conservatives have long called “chilling” behavior by one of the government’s “most feared” agencies.
Judge Reggie B. Walton of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia also said the IRS must provide information about which groups were targeted and why, along with a strategy to make sure such targeting doesn’t happen again.
The IRS is involved in multiple lawsuits with conservative groups related to the Tea Party targeting scandal; this particular case involves True the Vote.
Lerner, admitted it was applying extra scrutiny to conservative groups applying for nonprofit status.
“That was wrong,” Lerner said at the time in the press. “That was absolutely incorrect, it was insensitive and it was inappropriate…The IRS would like to apologize for that.”
But director of investigations and research at Judicial Watch Chris Farrell, whose organization is also involved in litigation with the IRS on this issue, told Fox News that the IRS owes litigants “real accountability.”
“This was creepy, chilling stuff,” Farrell told Fox News. “Judge Walton has accomplished more with one ruling than all of the rest of the federal government—all three branches—over the last six years.”
Farrell added: “The IRS is one of the most feared government agencies, and they’ve gotten a pass, in part. Walton is looking for real accountability and that’s so important.”
At a hearing last week, Walton told IRS attorneys that it was time to “lay it on the line. Put it out there,” according to The Washington Times.
Walton gave the IRS until Oct. 16 to finish the search.
Don’t get your hopes up yet — remember, there’s justice, then there’s government justice.
Coinciding with this ruling comes news from the Officer of Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, which found that 213 people were rehired by the IRS despite having committed offenses related to their job in the past. Among them were those who were fired for unethical actions in connection to targeting conservatives, while four had been fired by improperly accessing taxpayer information, and four were fired for failure to properly file their own taxes.
If the IRS has no problem hiring those who can’t be bothered to file their own taxes, it’s hard to be optimistic that there will be any justice served to any new employees who are discovered to be connected to the targeting scandal.