Justice Department admits IRS wrongdoing, agrees to $3.5 million settlement with tea party groups


The Trump administration agreed Thursday to pay $3.5 million to tea party groups snared by IRS targeting during the Obama administration, saying the intrusive scrutiny was illegal and cannot be allowed to happen again.

The government also reversed its tune on former IRS senior executive Lois G. Lerner. Instead of being a hero who tried to stop the targeting — as the Obama administration concluded in 2015 — the Justice Department and IRS now say she failed to stop her employees and hid the bad behavior from her bosses for two years.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who announced the settlements, offered an apology to more than 450 groups that were part of two lawsuits against the IRS.

As part of the agreements, the government admitted that the IRS forced tea party groups into illegal delays and unconscionable scrutiny, including questions about their political beliefs, plans to run for office and names of financial backers.

“There is no excuse for this conduct,” Mr. Sessions said in a statement announcing the settlements. “Hundreds of organizations were affected by these actions, and they deserve an apology from the IRS.”The IRS did not reply to requests for comment from The Washington Times about whether it would add its own voice to that apology. The IRS also didn’t respond to questions about the reversal on Ms. Lerner, who was allowed to retire rather than be fired in the wake of the targeting scandal.

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