The federal Internal Revenue Service has finally released a comprehensive list of non-profit groups whose applications for tax-exempt status were held up by bureaucrats around the time of the 2012 election. The list was filed in federal court in late May as part of an ongoing class action lawsuit waged by conservative groups against the IRS. The news was first reported by the Washington Times, but until Media Trackers obtained copies of the federal court filings, the list was not published in many of the stories detailing the development.
A majority of groups on the list are conservative organizations skeptical of the Obama administration’s policies. The initial filing for the class action lawsuit notes:
“While these groups were formed for a variety of specific purposes, they have at least one important characteristic in common: their apparent dissent from the policies or ideology of the Executive Branch of the United State Government under its current Administration . . . . Because their primary purposes are charitable or to promote the common good and general welfare of the citizens of their respective communities, the dissenting groups sought recognition of exemption from taxation by the Internal Revenue Service under Section 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code. However, the IRS and/or its agents targeted the dissenting groups for intensive and intrusive scrutiny, probing pervasively into their members’ associations, speech, activities, and beliefs.”
A handful of organizations on the list appear – by their name – to be liberal. But the disproportionate and overwhelming majority of the organizations targeted by the IRS were conservative. Lois Lerner oversaw the non-profit groups division at the IRS during the time that the Obama Administration denied or otherwise investigated conservative non-profit applicants. Lerner later destroyed critical records from her office pertaining to the incident after public and Congressional scrutiny was directed at her.
Lerner is a close friend of Kevin Kennedy, the outgoing head of Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board, who worked with Democratic prosecutors in Wisconsin to harass conservative groups in secretive investigations that involved pre-dawn raids and the confiscation of personal property. Federal courts have since shut down the coordinated government actions and have sided with the free speech claims made by conservatives.
In 2013, Lerner apologized for the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups. A Washington Post story at the time placed the number of affected groups at around 300. In the new court filings, the IRS admits it targeted 426 organizations, with an additional 40 groups declining to be included on the list.
At least 5 of the groups targeted by the IRS were located in Wisconsin, including Media Trackers.
This post originally appeared on MediaTrackers.org.