True the Vote, a Houston-based voter watchdog group that arose from a tea party organization, filed suit in federal court Tuesday against the Internal Revenue Service over the agency’s processing of its request for tax-exempt status. The lawsuit, filed by the conservative ActRight Legal Foundation, asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to grant its request for tax-exempt status and award damages for what it described as unlawful conduct by the IRS. True the Vote, which was founded in June 2010, is affiliated with the King Street Patriots, a tea party group which started in December 2009. Originally called KSP/True the Vote, the group filed in July 2010 for tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) charity organization. In August 2011, the group changed its name to True the Vote Inc.; King Street Patriots has separately been seeking the 501(c)(4) status from the IRS. True the Vote has come under fire for intimidating African-American and other minority voters at the polls.
“Due to True the Vote’s perceived conservative policy positions and affiliation with Tea Party organizations, the IRS and IRS Employees systematically targeted True the Vote’s application for additional review and scrutiny, whereby True the Vote was deliberately subjected to numerous unnecessary and burdensome requests for information about its operations and affiliations,” the lawsuit reads. “Consequently, True the Vote was forced to furnish to the IRS information and documents wholly unnecessary to the determination of True the Vote’s tax-exempt status, which were repeatedly accessed and inspected by IRS agents.”
The suit — which names numerous defendants including former acting IRS commissioner Steven Miller, former commissioner Douglas Shulman, and Lois G. Lerner, head of the agecy’s tax-exempt organizations division — seeks immediate recognition of True the Vote as a 501(c)(3) and damages of more than $85,000.