Tea Party Attorney: IRS Investigation Never 'Got Off the Ground'

Thursday, 16 Jan 2014 02:40 PM

By Wanda Carruthers

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The Justice Department's investigation into the targeting of conservative tea party groups by the Internal Revenue Service never "got off the ground," claimed Jay Sekulow, attorney for a number of the groups involved.

"I don't think it ever got off the ground. It took eight months before we had the first contact by an FBI agent. When they did have the contact, they were already closing the file," Sekulow, who is also chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, told Fox News' "America's Newsroom" on Thursday.

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The FBI indicated it would not seek criminal charges over the IRS issue, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday. Sekulow maintained he didn't think the Justice Department conducted a "serious investigation" into the allegations against the IRS. He said it was curious an inquiry would be closed without interviewing the victims first.

"I think it was a sham from the beginning," he said. "Obviously, they were able to close the case without talking to victims, which is really unprecedented."

Sekulow said he represents 42 conservative groups who claimed the IRS targeted them when they attempted to apply for nonprofit status. He said he thought the total number of conservative groups involved numbered around 200.

The IRS said liberal groups also came under scrutiny for tax-exempt nonprofit status. Sekulow maintained he had yet to identify who the liberal groups were.

"I have not found a liberal group that went through the same targeting process these conservative groups have gone through," he said.

The investigation was closed the day after it came to light that Justice Department attorney Barbara Bosserman, a donor to the presidential campaign of President Barack Obama, was heading up the case, Sekulow said. He claimed it was difficult to say the case was closed when he wasn't aware "that it ever started."

The conservative groups could still prevail in civil court, Sekulow argued. He explained the IRS already admitted they are "culpable."

"They have admitted they engaged in targeting. That violates the first amendment," he said.

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