A lawsuit seeking "compensatory and punitive damages" from the Obama administration was filed on Wednesday by an organization representing 25 tea party and conservative groups that were targeted by the Internal Revenue Service.
"The only way to stop this flagrant and arrogant abuse of our clients' rights is to file a federal lawsuit, which we have done," Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the group filing the lawsuit, the American Center for Law and Justice, told The Hill.
"The lawsuit sends a very powerful message to the IRS and the Obama administration -- including the White House: Americans are not going to be bullied and intimidated by our government."
According to the lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Washington, the groups faced "comprehensive, pervasive, invidious and organized" targeting and were denied their First and Fifth Amendment rights.
The defendants named in the lawsuit include the IRS, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. Others include Steven Miller, the former acting IRS chief; and two other IRS officials linked to the scandal, Lois Lerner and Holly Paz.
The 25 groups representing 15 states had their applications for tax-exempt status "unlawfully delayed and obstructed" for reasons solely having to do with their ideology, the lawsuit alleges.
Most of the groups sought tax-exempt 501(c)(4) status, which allows them to keep their donors private, The Hill reports.
The legal action also seeks a permanent injunction barring federal agencies and officials from discriminating against the 25 groups "for disparate treatment and particular scrutiny based on the unconstitutional criteria of political viewpoint or association."
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