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Judicial Watch Sues Treasury Department for Records About Unlawful, Unilateral Delay of 'Employer Mandate'

WASHINGTON, DC -- (Marketwired) -- 04/01/14 -- Judicial Watch announced today that on March 24, 2014, it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Treasury seeking agency records related to the delay of the "employer mandate" provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as "Obamacare"). Treasury has failed to respond to the FOIA request filed on October 28, 2013.

On July 2, 2013 the Obama administration disclosed in a blog post by Assistant Treasury Secretary for Tax Policy Mark Mazur that it would unilaterally delay the controversial "employer mandate" provision of the law, which was to have gone into effect in January 2014, until 2015. The administration claimed it was delaying the mandate in order to give companies time to comply with the reporting procedures. A report on the delay in the Bloomberg news at the time, however, suggested that "and the delay potentially shields Democratic candidates from a backlash generated by the additional regulations on employers."

On February 10, 2014, the Obama administration again, unlawfully and unilaterally delayed the employer mandate, this time until 2016.

There is controversy about the legality of the delays, and on January 16, 2014, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform staff conducted a transcribed interview with Mazur, in which he consistently denies "recollection" about whether the White House, the Department of the Treasury or the Internal Revenue Service inquire into the legal authority of the "employer mandate" delays.

In a March 22, 2014, commentary entitled, "Was delaying the employer mandate legal? Did the IRS even check?," the Washington Post's Jonathan Adler wrote, "Given the clear language of the PPACA, it was whether the Administration had the legal authority to make this move... Treasury has yet to identify an applicable precedent that would justify waiving a tax liability prospectively as the Administration is purporting to do."

"The stonewall on Obamacare is Nixonian," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "There simply is no precedent for this administration's penchant for ignoring the law and accountability. The Treasury Department's refusal to turn over documents about the employer mandate has the fingerprints of the Obama White House all over it."

On October 1, 2013, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit on behalf of Kawa Orthodontics LLP challenging the Obama administration's unlawful and unilateral decision to delay the enactment of the "employer mandate" provisions. Because of the unlawful delay, Kawa Orthodontics lost "the value of its substantial efforts" in preparing for the mandate as originally scheduled. On January 13, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge William P. Dimitrouleas, in a brief opinion, dismissed the lawsuit on "standing" grounds. In January 2014, Judicial Watch filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

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