Thomas More Society Submits Legal Request to IRS to Secure Newly Accessed Emails
(December 18, 2014 – Washington, D.C.) – Thomas More Society has submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the IRS, requesting copies of all the “newly found” emails to or from Lois Lerner, fired IRS Senior Executive, involving discrimination of pro-life groups.
“For at least four years, discrimination against pro-life and conservative groups by the IRS was taking place under the direction of Lois Lerner,” said Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel of the Thomas More Society. “Based on our clients’ experience, we knew the law had been broken. We are seeking these emails in hopes of building a strong case for the appropriate prosecutor to take legal action against those in the IRS who abused their authority by acting against pro-life non-profit groups on the basis of the group members’ protected beliefs.”
In both May and August of 2013, the Society provided the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means with a mountain of evidence comprising over 500 pages of documentation from six different pro-life groups that had been victimized by viewpoint-biased discrimination on the part of the IRS, dating back to 2009.
In March 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released a staff report entitled “Lois Lerner’s Involvement in the IRS Targeting of Tax-Exempt Organizations,” based in part on information that Thomas More Society had uncovered nearly a year before.
The evidence submitted by the Thomas More Society detailed the experience of several pro-life organizations that had applied for 501(c)(3) charitable recognition and had experienced blatant bias on the part of the IRS agents assigned to process their applications. Repeatedly, these pro-life groups were harassed with questions about time spent in prayer and the content of prayers at abortion facilities, and they were told that they must educate and advocate on abortion from both sides of the issue. One group’s directors were ordered to swear they would never again picket or protest at a Planned Parenthood facility.
Several Thomas More Society clients – all pro-life organizations – experienced significant delays with their tax exemptions under Lois Lerner’s watch, when “exemption organization specialists” refused to apply tax-exempt law correctly until the Society’s legal counsel intervened.
Thomas More Society has now requested the following documents from the IRS, included in the 30,000 recovered Lois Lerner emails, which the Inspector General recently recovered (after the IRS had earlier claimed that the emails could not be found):
1. All e-mails which mention the following pro-life organizations (Thomas More Society clients who experienced harassment from the IRS while under Lois Lerner’s direction):
a. Christian Voices for Life of Fort Bend County (Texas)
b. Coalition for Life of Iowa (Iowa)
c. Small Victories (Illinois)
d. Cherish Life Ministries (Virginia)
e. LIFE Group (Missouri)
f. Emerald Coast Coalition for Life (Florida)
2. Any emails using the phrase “right to life,” “pro-life,” “anti-choice,” “anti-abortion,” or “abortion.”
Thomas More Society hopes that the evidence produced in response to its FOIA request will assist in bringing justice to the pro-life organizations harassed by the IRS through Lois Lerner.