2 SC Tea Party groups join federal suit against IRS

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Two Tea Party groups in the Palmetto State have joined groups from around the country in a suit filed against the IRS Wednesday.

The Laurens County Tea Party and the Myrtle Beach Tea Party are involved in a suit against the United States, the IRS, and the individuals involved in the recent scandal alleging that the IRS unfairly targeted conservative groups in 2012.

The suit alleges that the U.S., the IRS, and several specific employees named as defendants "unlawfully delayed and obstructed Plaintiffs' applications for a determination of tax-exempt status by means of conduct that was based on unconstitutional criteria and impermissibly disparate treatment of Plaintiffs in violation of Plaintiffs' rights under the First and Fifth Amendments to the United States Constitution and the Administrative Procedure Act."

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson received documents this week from the Myrtle Beach Tea Party, showing they attempted to receive tax-exempt status but were denied. Officials from the Laurens County Tea Party have also contacted the AG's office. Wilson is encouraging other groups to come forward.

According to a report by CNN, the Washington-based American Center for Law and Justice, founded by televangelist Pat Robertson, argued in a federal district court filing that the organizations' First Amendment free speech rights and Fifth Amendment due process rights were violated, among other things. The group also contends that the IRS violated its own regulations.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of 25 Tea party groups, seeks compensatory and punitive damages against IRS Commissioner Steven Miller, IRS Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner and IRS official Holly Paz for "implementing, directing, and overseeing the unconstitutional conduct," CNN reports.

It also asks the court to force the immediate granting of tax-exempt status to several groups still waiting for the IRS to act on their applications.

The Justice Department has also launched an investigation of whether laws were broken by IRS workers using a list of criteria including names such as "tea party" to determine levels of scrutiny for groups seeking tax-exempt status, according to the CNN report. Other groups have also filed or plan to file related suits against the IRS.

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