US

Two IRS offices targeted Hawaii GOP leader at the same time

In what former Republican executive and activist Dylan Nonaka is calling a massive invasion of privacy that suggests a coordinated effort to target conservative groups, two IRS offices last year independently and simultaneously conducted costly audits and sought tea party-related training materials that they apparently believed could be tied to Nonaka.

Nonaka, who is the former executive director of the Hawaii Republican Party and a faculty member of the Arlington, Va.-based conservative activist training organization the Leadership Institute, is little-known outside of Hawaii. So when the now-infamous Cincinnati IRS office in 2012 demanded that the Hawaii Tea Party explain its “relationship with Dylan Nonaka” and the Leadership Institute, and “provide copies of the training material used by Dylan Nonaka” — all almost at the same time that the Baltimore IRS office separately began auditing the Leadership Institute and requesting its training materials — it wasn’t long before Nonaka became suspicious.

“It’s a little bit scary,” Nonaka told The Daily Caller, adding that the apparent coordination made it extremely unlikely that only two IRS officials were primarily behind the agency’s efforts to target conservative groups, as the IRS has claimed.

“To say that these were are a couple of rogue IRS agents, there’s just no way,” Nonaka said. “They obviously had to have done research into the state of Hawaii.”

BELOW – Four of the IRS’ questions for the Hawaii Tea Party. (Read the full request here)

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The Hawaii Tea Party, based in Maui, was audited in 2011. But despite the IRS’ inquiries, Nonaka said he had only limited interaction with the group.

“I think I did one training with [the Hawaii Tea Party] through the Leadership Institute, when the Leadership Institute came to Hawaii,” Nonaka told TheDC.”I was never a member of the Hawaii Tea Party. I was never involved with them.”

Meanwhile, also in 2011, the Leadership Institute was under the IRS’ microscope.

“Our audit began June 1, 2011,” Leadership Institute spokeswoman Abigail Alger told TheDC. “We were asked for additional documentation in February 2012″ — just 19 days after the Hawaii Tea Party was asked for additional information.

“The Baltimore office asked for copies of our training material,” Alger said. “The questions ranged from turning over the content of our 2008 training materials, to giving them all the information on our 2008 interns. These were just college kids, but they asked who our 2008 interns went on to work for.”

“In May, the IRS had an internal workshop. Our audit was closed July of that year, with no evidence of wrongdoing,” Alger said. “By that point, we had spent $50,000 in legal fees.”

The Hawaii Tea Party was also cleared of wrongdoing by the Cincinnati office.

“It’s a pretty big invasion of privacy,” Nonaka said.