IRS inspector general probes whether agency abused Virginia tea partier

The Inspector General of the U.S. Treasury Department is investigating whether an environmental group pressured the Internal Revenue Service into auditing a Virginia farmer and tea partier, according to attorneys, policy analysts and other sources familiar with the case.

But the investigation has not discouraged IRS auditors, who are expanding their audit of Martha Boneta in what has become a high-profile dispute over property rights.

Boneta told The Daily Caller in an interview that she has been asked to submit “reams and reams” of new information in addition to the original audit request.

Boneta said that she and her legal representatives recently met with a special agent of the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Information (TIGTA) “on two separate days, for almost five hours.”

While Boneta would not comment on the details of the meeting, she did say the “close coordination and collusion” between the Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) and the Fauquier County government in Virginia could become central to the ongoing investigation. The meetings with the special agent took place earlier this summer and with witnesses as recently as this past week.

“We cannot confirm or deny that there is any investigation,” a spokesman in the TIGTA office told TheDC. “We are legally prohibited from commenting. But if you want to do a story, no one here can object.”

Boneta, who is actively pushing for new property rights legislation in the state, is convinced she is on the receiving end of a “deliberate, persistent, coordinated assault.”

She became the subject of an IRS audit after the PEC sued her over the terms of a conservation easement that sits on her property and after Fauquier County issued her a series of citations based on alleged zoning violations that could amount to thousands of dollars in fines.

Email messages and other written information Boneta obtained through a Freedom of Information Request (FOIA) show PEC and Fauquier County government officials discussed her case at length in a steady chain of emails and other written messages that were exchanged in 2011 over a period of several months.

At one point, Peter Schwartz — a county supervisor who previously served as a PEC board member — discussed having Boneta’s mortgage called in with Phillip Thomas, a real estate mogul who previously owned the land that includes Boneta’s farm.