Dusting off the ol’ enemies list, the Democratic establishment has sicced the IRS on the Tea Party and other conservative groups across the land.
At least 80 groups associated with the Tea Party Patriots — the largest national Tea Party organization — have been targeted by the IRS with intrusive questions about membership, activities, private communications and other privileged information.
The witch hunt may have been instigated by a letter signed by seven Democrat senators challenging the free-speech rights of conservative groups that have applied for nonprofit status.
The demands that have been sent from the IRS seem to have all originated from the same office.
The IRS interrogatories have been long, many-page inquisitions into things like lists of speakers at Tea Party meetings, membership, donations, private emails among board members, resumes of board members and any volunteers, descriptions of any rallies or fundraisers, information about any groups that have jointly participated in Tea Party events and their membership, copies of fliers and advertisements, and even information about subscribers to any Tea Party publications.
Many of the Tea Party groups have refused to answer the IRS on First Amendment grounds, and Tea Party leaders have engaged legal representation.
One of the groups that has been targeted by the IRS is the San Fernando Valley Patriots in Los Angeles. Group founder and coordinator Karen Kenney received the IRS paperwork questioning the group’s 501(c)(4) status a year and a half after the group first filed as a nonprofit.
The IRS mailing was 12 pages, 35 questions and included 80 items that required a response.
“The Philistines have put Goliath on the field of battle,” said Kenney. “We are David gathering stones.”
Other conservative groups, such as the 9/12 Project and the Ohio Liberty Council, have received similar demands from the IRS, including seeking information about activities on Twitter and Facebook, details about websites, meeting minutes, credentials of speakers at sponsored events, and party affiliation of group members.
Several accountants familiar with the documents have commented that they have not seen such intrusive questionnaires before and that the IRS seems to be gathering information in preparation for audits. Some Tea Party leaders have speculated that the IRS is digging for personal information on group members as an intimidation tactic.
As of 2010, the year in which many of the Tea Party Patriots groups applied, there were 139,000 groups in the U.S. with 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status.
Of about 1,700 organizations that applied in that year, over 1,400 were approved, according to IRS information.
Apparently it’s just coincidence that of the remaining 300, so many happen to be Tea Party related.
According to the Associated Press, seven Democrat senators last month demanded the IRS investigate conservative groups that they say are “improperly engaged in a substantial or even a predominant amount of campaign activity.”
The Tea Party has enemies throughout the liberal establishment, so it could be that Harry Reid’s Senate by itself is fomenting the witch hunt, but it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to suspect that we might find White House fingerprints upon closer inspection.
Liberals using the IRS against conservative groups is nothing new, especially in an election year. Democrat Party henchmen like Americans for the Separation of Church and State have a long history of trying to get tax-exempt status pulled from conservative groups for the slimmest of excuses, while looking the other way when liberal churches engage in open politicking.
But the current assault feels different because the Tea Party has had, and continues to have, a strong influence on the political landscape. Unlike some of the groups that liberals traditionally harass, the Tea Party may be an actual threat to Democrat ambitions, specifically President Obama’s.
And given this president’s propensity for skirting the Constitution, it would be no surprise to find him engaging in this sort of dirty dealing to intimidate citizens who dare stand up to him.
Tad Cronn is the editor in chief of The Patriots Almanac and the author of the e-book Radical Reboot: How to Fix Capitalism (and Save the World).