McHenry Lee and Richard Thompson contributed to this report.
Tea party members gathered outside the Internal Revenue Service in Washington, D.C. Tuesday to protest the targeting of conservative groups that had identified themselves as “tea party” or “patriots” on applications for tax-exempt status.
Led in a chant by a man dressed as George Washington, about 75 protesters expressed their discontent with the Internal Revenue Service and the current administration with shouts of “Audit the IRS” and “Indict Obama.”
“Everyone here wants to make their voices known,” Evan Drain, the youngest delegate to the Republican National Convention last year, said. “We feel like the IRS has stifled some of the speech that the tea party was trying to engage in in the past election cycles.”
“So we’re trying to show that we are still a vibrant movement and have a message to contribute,” Drain continued. “Regardless of what’s been happening over the past few months, we’re going to get out and make that message known.”
The flash rally was a part of a larger group of more than 100 nationwide protests organized by Tea Party Patriots.
“We cannot have people willingly using the IRS as a political weapon, working for this agency,” Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, said. “If we allow them to get away with it now, more people will get away with it in the future.”
Lisa Miller, founder of the Washington, D.C. tea party chapter, asserted that the scandal illustrated the continuing abuse of power by the government.
“Big government is the problem,” Miller said. “You can get rid of the cancer that is on top of the skin, but if you don’t get rid of the cancer underneath the skin, you’re still going to end up dead.”
It came as no surprise to many of the protesters that the government had abused its authority. According to Martin, her organization realized over a year ago that other groups were falling under the same scrutiny they were after receiving audit orders from the IRS.
“None of us can speculate how high up in the Obama administration this goes,” she said.
The rhetoric coming from top-level officials in the Obama administration is having an affect on how policies are being implemented by various governmental agencies,” Drain said.
Some called for a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS, while others simply want it to be abolished.
“What country are we in,” one protester asked. “This is not America. This is crazy.”
Videography by Sarah Hofmann