Congressional investigations sought over IRS ‘assault’ on tea party groups

David Martosko Executive Editor
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On Tuesday, Jamie Radtke, a Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Virginia, asked California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa to investigate what she said was unfair treatment of tea party groups by the Internal Revenue Service. Issa chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Radtke is a former president of the Richmond Tea Party, a group which applied for tax-exempt charitable status in December 2009.

“After waiting two and a half years for approval,” Radtke wrote, “the IRS recently communicated a new set of overly-burdensome and invasive demands for information that exceed the scope of the IRS code.”

Those demands, Radtke said in a press release, included the answers to “12 additional questions in 53 separate parts.” The Richmond Tea Party was also ordered to hand over a list of all its donors and volunteers.

“The IRS,” Radtke added, “states that such information will be made available for ‘public inspection.’”

The Daily Caller has obtained copies of two letters to the organization from the IRS, dated September 10, 2010 and January 9, 2012. The earlier letter contains 17 separate requests for information, including “copies of your materials on Face Book [sic]” and “copies of any sponsorship agreements.”

The more recent letter, which Radtke addressed, does indeed contain 53 additional demands for information before the IRS can designate the group as a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organization.

The federal government’s latest requirements include copies of “all the [web] pages that are accessible only to your members,” along with an accounting of all “donations, contributions, and grant income for each year,” including “names” and “amounts” of every contributor.

“How did you use these donations, contributions, and grants?” the IRS asks. “Provide the details.”

The agency also asked for “the time, location, and detailed description” of every event and program the Richmond tea Party has conducted since October 22, 2010, along with “copies of handouts”; “the names and credentials of the organizers”; “detailed contents of … speeches or forums, names of the speakers or panels, and their credentials”; “the amount … each person” was paid; and “the names of persons from your organization and the amount of time they spent on the event or program.”

In a press release, the Richmond group noted that both letters demanded detailed replies in only two weeks. The September 10, 2010 letter from the IRS, it said, came after nine months of waiting.

The response to that letter, the group added, “was curiously due on the opening day of the inaugural Virginia Tea Party Convention, for which RTP was a central organizer.”

Another conservative grassroots group, the Ohio Liberty Council, said on Feb. 16 that it had received a similar letter from the IRS after waiting for 18 months for the agency to approve its application for the same non-profit tax status.

That letter, dated Jan. 26, included 34 separate questions for the organization to answer.

In its reply to the IRS, the Ohio Liberty Council said it would “refuse to comply,” and that it had asked its congressional representatives “to investigate your actions and intentions.”

“I defy any American to read this list of demands by the IRS and not be outraged,” fumed Tom Zawistowski, a spokesman for the Ohio Liberty Council and executive director of the Portage County TEA Party. “This is the kind of personal information that this government is going to be demanding from your church, your doctor, your hospital, your business and your favorite charity going forward.”

The Richmond Tea Party said it would ask Congress to “investigate whether or not the IRS is operating under specific instructions to delay the granting of tax-exempt status for Tea Parties and similar organizations.”

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Read the IRS letters to the Richmond Tea Party and the Ohio Liberty Council: