DOJ settles Tea Party groups' lawsuits over IRS scrutiny

DOJ settles Tea Party groups' lawsuits over IRS scrutiny
© Greg Nash

The Department of Justice announced Thursday that it has reached settlements with conservative groups over lawsuits relating to the IRS's scrutiny over the groups' applications for tax-exempt status.

The settlements pertain to two cases, one with 41 plaintiffs and another with 428 plaintiffs. The agreements await approval from federal district court judges.

In 2013, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration released a report finding that the IRS had subjected Tea Party groups' applications for tax-exempt status to extra scrutiny and delays. The revelations prompted the lawsuits as well as congressional investigations. 

In one of the settlement documents, the IRS says that its treatment of the plaintiffs was "wrong" and that the agency offered a "sincere apology." The agency said that it is committed to "avoiding any selection and/or further review of tax-exempt applicants or entities that is based solely on the name or policy positions of such entity."

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsUnder pressure, Trump shifts blame for Russia intrusion Overnight Tech: Judge blocks AT&T request for DOJ communications | Facebook VP apologizes for tweets about Mueller probe | Tech wants Treasury to fight EU tax proposal Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand MORE said in a statement that there was "no excuse" for the IRS's conduct. 

"Hundreds of organizations were affected by these actions, and they deserve an apology from the IRS," he said. "We hope that today’s settlement makes clear that this abuse of power will not be tolerated.” 

Earlier this month, the inspector general released another report that found that there were liberal groups whose applications also faced heightened scrutiny.