On April 28, 2014, Freedom Path filed suit against the Internal Revenue Services for (i) illegally targeting Freedom Path’s tax-exempt application for additional scrutiny because of its conservative policy views; (ii) illegally releasing Freedom Path’s confidential taxpayer information to the liberal media outlet ProPublica; and (iii) using an unconstitutional “facts and circumstances” test to evaluate Freedom Path’s political activities. Today—more than 3½ years since the lawsuit was filed—the Internal Revenue Service and Freedom Path have agreed to a financial settlement and the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas has issued a final judgment.
The Freedom Path settlement occurs just 34 days after the IRS settled the NorCal v. United States case, a distinct class action lawsuit brought by Freedom Path and more than 400 other plaintiffs who were illegally targeted by the IRS for their political beliefs. Following that settlement, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions weighed in personally on the conduct of the IRS:
There is no excuse for this conduct. Hundreds of organizations were affected by these actions, and they deserve an apology from the IRS. We hope that today’s settlement makes clear that this abuse of power will not be tolerated.
The Attorney General’s sentiments are shared by Freedom Path director Scott Bensing, who stated:
No organization in America should be denied the ability to advocate for their members because the IRS has singled them out for political reasons. While I am thankful that this case has been resolved, I would only hope that the government abuses underlying this action are not forgotten—less they be repeated in the future.
Chris Gober, lead counsel for Freedom Path, responded to the settlement and final judgment:
Throughout litigation of this case, we have remained committed to protecting and vindicating the rights of conservative organizations who faced unlawful and discriminatory targeting by the IRS. While this financial settlement fulfills our objective to hold the IRS accountable for its corrupt practices, we won’t be entirely satisfied until the American people can have faith that similar abuses of power will not be repeated. For that reason, Freedom Path remains committed to continuing its challenge to the IRS’s unconstitutional “facts and circumstances” test used to evaluate nonprofits’ political activities.
Freedom Path is represented by attorneys Chris Gober and Stephen Hoersting of The Gober Group, Jason Torchinsky and Shawn Sheehy of Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky, and Orrin L. Harrison, III of Gruber Hail Johansen Shank. A copy of Freedom Path’s Complaint can be viewed here.