When a conservative group called True the Vote, which describes itself as a “voter-integrity” organization, applied for tax-exempt status, it ran into a little trouble. The Internal Revenue Service, aware of the group’s controversial tactics, scrutinized True the Vote’s request, before ultimately granting the organization the tax status it requested.
The conservative entity’s leaders filed a lawsuit anyway, claiming mistreatment. The case didn’t go well.
A federal judge on Thursday dismissed two lawsuits against the Internal Revenue Service related to the agency’s treatment of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, ruling that no remedy was necessary because the groups’ applications were ultimately approved.“The allegedly unconstitutional governmental conduct, which delayed the processing of the plaintiff’s tax-exempt application and brought about this litigation, is no longer impacting the plaintiff,” Judge Reggie B. Walton, of the United States District Court in the District of Columbia, wrote in a 23-page decision. He was referring to the lead plaintiff, True the Vote, a Tea Party-affiliated group.“Unless an actual, ongoing controversy exists in this case, this court is without power to decide it,” Judge Walton added.
Judge Walton, in case you’re curious, was a Republican appointee, first put on the bench by President Reagan.
The outcome, though not surprising to anyone except far-right activists, does raise a dilemma for proponents of the underlying conspiracy theory. There were organizations – on the right, left, and center – whose applications were subjected to additional scrutiny by the tax agency, but no conservative groups were actually denied a tax-exempt status.
It’s one of the details that makes the IRS “scandal” a joke with no punchline.
That said, though the controversy largely evaporated over a year ago, it’s likely to generate ample attention in the next Congress, especially if Republicans successfully take the Senate.
Republicans vow to put the clamps on the IRS if they sweep to power in November.GOP lawmakers and aides believe that House-passed legislation to limit the IRS’s reach would have a better shot at making it to President Obama’s desk if Republicans win control of the Senate on Nov. 4.Full Republican control of Congress would give the GOP added leverage over the IRS, doubling the panel’s oversight of an agency that drew conservative ire by improperly scrutinizing Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) added that Republican control of the Senate would mean more hearings and “more opportunity to get to the truth.”
That sounds nice, except Republicans already have the truth: this was never really a scandal in the first place. GOP officials have spent the better part of two years looking for proof of a conspiracy, but they haven’t anything – because there was no conspiracy.
Incidentally, there were some developments of note last month: “A Senate investigative panel on Friday confirmed that the Internal Revenue Service used inappropriate methods to scrutinize tax-exempt groups but said it found ‘no evidence of IRS political bias’ in the agency’s actions.”
The entirety of that 228-page report is online here.