Chattanooga Tea Party President Mark West on Saturday welcomed news that Congress may investigate the IRS after the agency admitted it targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, reports the Times-Free Press.
West said the Chattanooga Tea Party is among the 75 groups the agency admitted last week were victims of deliberate bureaucratic foot-dragging.
“It’s a scandal. It is the heavy-handedness of a bureaucratic government agency that has gone awry,” West said by telephone.
He noted that House Republicans are talking of holding hearings and said people of all political persuasions should support them.
“If they can do it to grass-roots tea party groups one year, they can to it to left-wing Occupy Wall Street people the next year. Either way, it’s wrong,” West said.
“Unless there’s an investigation and heads roll, unless some people lose their jobs over this, then we know this is just political. They got caught; they were going to feign an apology and move on.”
He said the Chattanooga Tea Party filed its application for tax-exempt 501(c)(4) status in 2009. He said the IRS “stonewalled and delayed” and asked “inappropriate” questions of the fledgling group. In mid-2011 or early 2012, with no ruling on the application, the agency wrote asking for additional information, West said.
Meanwhile, tea party and patriot groups around the state and nation had begun comparing notes and concluded the foot-dragging was deliberate.
In March 2012, U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker were among those who signed a letter to IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman seeking assurance that patriot and tea party groups were being treated fairly.
Note: Press releases from Corker and Alexander are below.
News release from Sen. Bob Corker:
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., made the following statement today in response to reports that the Internal Revenue Service inappropriately flagged conservative political groups for additional reviews during the 2012 election.
“As I said last year, all nonprofit organizations seeking tax-exempt status should be treated fairly and equitably by the IRS,” said Corker. “The IRS’s admission that its employees were specifically targeting conservative groups – including groups in Tennessee – is outrageous, disturbing, and will further erode Americans’ trust in the federal government. Swift and decisive action should be taken to punish those responsible and to assure the American people that these actions will not be tolerated at the IRS or any other federal agency.”
Last March, Senator Corker joined Senate colleagues in asking the Internal Revenue Service to treat all nonprofit groups seeking tax-exempt status fairly in the designation process.
News release from Sen. Lamar Alexander:
MARYVILLE, May 10 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander today released the following statement on the IRS’s admission today that it targeted conservative political groups for additional reviews during the 2012 election:
“This is the United States of America, where the First Amendment protects our right to organize and speak up and speak out, and it’s shocking to learn that the IRS arbitrarily targeted any peaceful political organization for ideological reasons. I asked the IRS last year to explain its actions, and today we find out it was, in fact, targeting Tea Party groups. Congress needs to investigate this further and make sure those responsible for it are held accountable and that something like this never happens again.”
Alexander joined 11 senators in March 2012 in sending a letter to IRS commissioner Douglas Schulman seeking assurance that the agency’s string of inquiries toward 501(c)(4) organizations affiliated with the Tea Party “has a sound basis in law and is consistent with the IRS’s treatment of tax-exempt organizations across the spectrum.”
Alexander said at the time: “The extra scrutiny the IRS appears to be giving Tea Party-related nonprofits is disturbing, so I hope we find that the IRS is treating all tax-exempt organizations the same. The government should not have what amounts to an enemies list based on what people or organizations say or believe, and if it turns out the IRS is denying Tea Party groups the proper tax status because of what they have to say, it must stop and those responsible must be held accountable.”