U.S. Internal Revenue Service. (Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/NLJ.)
The Republican National Committee filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Internal Revenue Service, accusing the agency of failing to respond to a request for documents about the review of organizations seeking tax-exempt status.
The committee sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the IRS in May 2013, according to the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. More than 200 days later, the committee said it had not received any documents.
“We’re filing this suit because the Obama administration has a responsibility to be transparent and accountable to the American people,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. “The IRS has a legal obligation to answer our inquiry for these records.”
The committee is represented by Jason Torchinsky, a partner at HoltzmanVogelJosefiak in Warrenton, Va. Torchinsky is a former counsel to the assistant attorney general for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, and served as deputy general counsel to President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign.
An IRS spokesman said the agency “does not generally comment on pending litigation.”
The committee filed its Freedom of Information Act request shortly after the Treasury inspector general for tax administration released a report finding the IRS used “inappropriate criteria” to review applications for tax-exempt status filed by Tea Party-affiliated groups.
The IRS sent a series of letters over the next few months saying officials needed more time to process the request, according to the complaint. In the most recent letter, dated Jan. 16, 2014, the IRS said it would contact the committee by April 18 if the agency was still unable to respond.
Besides the complaint, the committee also filed a motion for a preliminary and a permanent injunction against the agency to force disclosure of the records.
A judge hasn’t been assigned.
Updated at 12:46 p.m.