IRS Bias Case Shouldn’t Target Official, She Says

     DALLAS (CN) – A former Internal Revenue Service director urged a federal judge to drop her from a lawsuit alleging “intentional and systematic” targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.
     The Dallas-based conservative group sued the IRS and Lois Lerner, the former director of the agency’s Exempt Organizations Division, this past April. It claimed that policy positions caused “additional and unconstitutional scrutiny” on applications for 503(c)(4) tax-exempt status.
     As a 501(c)(4) “issue advocacy” group, Freedom Path can raise unlimited amounts of tax-exempt and need not disclose its donors. It has ties to the Republican Senatorial Committee, former Nevada Sen. John Ensign and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, and their staff members or former staffers.
     Freedom Path alleged IRS employees pulled applications based on conservative names or policy positions, delayed their processing, and made “probing and unconstitutional requests” for more information.
     Subsequent acknowledgement by the IRS of that targeting met with congressional and public outrage.
     Freedom Works alleged that “the onslaught of this congressional and media attention” led Lerner to finally rein in the practice until the agency could develop new guidelines for officials processing the applications of conservative nonprofits. “Defendant Lerner did not, however, take any action at that time to ensure that the letter previously sent to plaintiff, which contained unconstitutional and inappropriately intrusive information, was retracted,” the group added.
     Lerner asked U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater to dismiss Freedom Path’s First and Fifth Amendment claims against her.
     She said in an accompanying brief that the court lacks personal jurisdiction over her because Freedom Path failed to allege any contact between her and Texas.
     “There are no allegations that Ms. Lerner, who is a resident of Maryland, has had contact with Texas, such that exercising personal jurisdiction over her satisfies the requirements of the Texas long-arm statute and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” the 25-page filing states. “Dismissal of the claims … is the only result that comports with due process and Texas law.”
     Lerner said Freedom Path failed to overcome her qualified immunity as a federal immunity because it failed to show she violated any “clearly established” constitutional right.
     “The First and Fifth Amendment claims in the complaint fail to trump Ms. Lerner’s qualified immunity for at least four reasons,” the memorandum states. “First, Plaintiff has not alleged that Ms. Lerner purposely and personally infringed on Plaintiff’s First and Fifth Amendment rights. Second, Plaintiff failed to sufficiently allege a First Amendment violation. Third, Plaintiff failed to adequately allege a Fifth Amendment violation. Finally, Plaintiff failed to allege conduct that a reasonable person would know clearly violated Plaintiff’s constitutional rights.”
     Freedom Path could not be reached for comment Thursday.

%d bloggers like this: