Even as the Internal Revenue Service continues to evade questions regarding the way it handled applications for tax-exempt status from organizations with the “wrong” political view, on May 27, 2014, a federal judge for the District of Columbia has forced the agency to defend itself in court.
In 2009 a Pennsylvania group called Z Street applied to the IRS for tax-exempt status. Its stated mission was education of the public about Zionism and policies related to the Middle East and specifically Israel. In 2010 Z Street received a request for more information, which it sent. Two months later the agent in charge of reviewing the application told Z Street’s counsel she was concerned that the group engaged in advocacy related to the Middle East, and that she was holding up the application because of it.
That IRS agent, Diane Gentry, said that special attention was given to Israel-related groups and that “… these cases are being sent to a special unit in the D.C. office to determine whether the organization’s activities contradict the Administration’s public policies.” The Z Street complaint included this statement by Agent Gentry, and noted that the IRS’s November 2010 “Be On the Lookout” list flagged agents to look out for words related to Israel or “inflammatory” references to “disputed territories…”
This ruling by Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will force the IRS to open its books under court supervision. This includes the policies and procedures it has tried to keep under wraps. Z Street’s attorneys can seek depositions from persons who have been part of the larger attempt to sit on similar applications by other conservative groups. In other words, the flood gates could open.
It just got a lot harder for the Obama Administration to evade accountability.