The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) said on Friday it had targeted conservative groups for more thorough scrutiny during the 2012 presidential election. Groups with suspect words like “patriot” and “tea party” included in their names – roughly 75 in all – were selected for what many have called an unreasonable audit process.
Now, an information request the IRS sent to a Richmond, Virginia-based tea party group in January of 2012 has surfaced, revealing stunning overreach on behalf of tax collecting bureaucrats aimed at silencing conservative political opposition.
The request was sent from an IRS center in Cincinnatti, Ohio on January 9, 2012 and stated that a response was required within two weeks. The letter, signed by Stephen Seok, a so-called “Exempt Organizations Specialist,” warned that if groups did not respond within that two-week window, the IRS would close their file and deny their request for tax exemption.
The information request required the groups to disclose a substantial amount of information: The names of all board members, officers, employees and volunteers; the time, location, and detailed description of every event or program participated in since Oct. 22, 2010; copies of all handouts distributed during such events; transcripts of any speeches made during events; any plans to host future events; copies of all published literature or advertisements; copies of all web pages and presentations on social media sites and blogs; relationships with other 501(c)3 and 501(c)4 groups; the names of donors, contributors and grantors.
The last item is the most troubling. Since Richmond Tea Party, Inc. is a 501(c)4 group, donations are not tax deductible, meaning the IRS could not possibly have sought this information as a means of verifying donors’ tax filings. The only possible reason the IRS would request this information is to harass or publicly vilify those who financially support to conservative causes.
The IRS’s targeted investigation of conservatives and tea party groups does not appear to have extended into Maine at this point in time.