A tea party leader in Ohio is pleased that the Internal Revenue Service must pay millions of dollars to tea party groups that were targeted by the agency in the run up to the 2012 presidential election.
Last week a federal judge in Cincinnati signed off on the settlement between the IRS and hundreds of tea party groups to close out a major legal battle over unwarranted and illegal targeting of the groups. The IRS will pay $3.5 million to the tea party organizations that were wronged by intrusive inspections – and the agency insists it has taken steps to ensure that political targeting won't occur in the future. Former IRS official Lois Lerner (pictured) was at the center of the controversy.
Tom Zawistowski is executive director of the Portage County Tea Party. At the time of filing of the suit, he was president of the lead plaintiff in the case: the Ohio Liberty Coalition.
"It's kind of bittersweet. When you get a judgment against the federal government, it's kind of like getting a judgment against yourself because they're going to use tax money to pay it. But we do think it's important. The dollar amount seems to put in people's minds that it was serious because there was a serious fine. And we think that's a good message to send as well."
Zawistowski says the then Obama led IRS accomplished its mission during 2012.
"They weaponized the IRS to shut down the tea party groups around the country so that he could win the 2012 election. That's just simply the fact."
Zawistowski hopes the tea party groups can get their money soon enough so they can help defeat liberals in November. According to The Washington Times, after attorneys' fees each of the more than 100 tea party groups will get about $17,000.
While the settlement does not include an admission of wrongdoing by the IRS, the group that funded the lawsuit itself (Citizens for Self Governance) says it's not aware of any other class-action lawsuit against the agency for anything where the IRS paid money.