For Immediate Release: Friday, December 4, 2020
Contact: David Armiak, firstname.lastname@example.org
MADISON, WI – The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) filed a lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in federal court on Thursday, December 4, 2020, for illegally withholding tax documents for five right-wing funders.
CMD filed the complaint after exhausting every option to obtain grant lists from tax filings from the IRS, and argues that the agency’s actions have violated the Administrative Procedure Act and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
In June 2020, CMD submitted a FOIA request seeking missing Part XV, "Grants and Contributions Paid During the Year or Approved for Future Payment," from 23 tax returns from the nine right-wing funders. In October 2020, the IRS produced some of the attachments without explanation in a response to CMD, but not all. A few days later, CMD received another letter from the IRS stating that, "the Disclosure Specialist properly denied your requests."
CMD is filing suit to obtain the Part XV section for the following:
- Asness Family Foundation (2016 990 Form, 2017 990 Form, 2018 990 Form)
- Barbara and Barre Seid Foundation (2016 990-PF Form, 2018 990-PF Form)
- Dunn Foundation (2014-PF Form)
- Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund (2013 990 Form, 2014 990 Form, 2015 990 Form)
- The Randolph Foundation (2018 990-PF Form)
CMD's December 3 lawsuit follows an April 20 lawsuit against the IRS for failing to produce 2018 tax records for 18 right-wing groups that it claimed did not exist. In May, the IRS informed CMD's counsel, Courtney T. DeThomas from Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, that it would not contest CMD's request for records and provided all but one of the filings. "The IRS's response to CMD's FOIA requests points to a pattern of arbitrary and capricious procedural dodges that undermines the core principles of government transparency that are enshrined in the law," said Ms. DeThomas.
"After the IRS agreed to produce records following our April 20th lawsuit, I am shocked that it is again forcing us to go to court," said David Armiak, research director with CMD. "It is mind-boggling why the IRS chooses to fight rather than produce the documents as they are legally required to. I sincerely hope that this is the last time we will have to go to court and the IRS can improve its procedures in dealing with tax filing requests."
A full copy of CMD's complaint is available here and below.