At first glance, it might seem like some justice has finally been delivered.
The Department of Justice has settled a class-action lawsuit brought by Tea Party groups from across the country. The government has admitted that what happened was a violation of rights.
Back before the 2012 election, the IRS started scrutinizing certain non-profit applications more closely. Political organizations seeking tax exempt status as non-profits are pretty typical. But for some reason, the IRS decided to delay over 400 applications.
Most of the groups that were flagged for more scrutiny had "Tea Party" or "Patriot" in their names. The routine applications were delayed, and instead, the IRS sent out requests for more information. These requests were not standard, nor was there any legal reason for the IRS to need such information.
Tea Party groups were asked to list the names of their financial backers, and identify any members who might want to run for office. The groups were also asked intrusive questions about their policial beliefs.
The scandal amounted to political intimidation. Tea Party groups were targetted based on their political beliefs. They were then scrutinized by one of the most powerful government agencies.
The IRS was chilling free speech, and scaring Americans into silence. The message they sent was that by participating in a Tea Party group, you might just become the target of the IRS.
And who wouldn't fear being on the radar of the IRS? Just look how they tried to ruin on woman's life.
Catherine Engelbrecht founded King Street Patriots and True the Vote. She had never run into any trouble with the IRS. But after she applied for tax-exempt status for the groups, she started getting audited. Not the non-profit, but an entirely unrelated business.
The business had been in operation for about 20 years and had never been the subject of a federal inquiry. Only after Engelbrecht filed for non-profit status for her groups was the business targetted by multiple government agencies.