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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

5/15/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Grilling of conservative groups included questions about personal opinions, books being read, Facebook posts

As the scandal over inappropriate audits of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service continues to simmer, the questions asked by the IRS to members of said groups emerge as particularly sinister. A review of documents from 11 tea party and conservative groups shows the IRS wanted to know . everything. The review included interviews with groups or their representatives from Hawaii, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas and elsewhere.

Some letters from the IRS asked for copies of the groups' Web pages, blog posts and social media postings. This raised concerns that some tea party members would be punished for their tweets or Facebook comments by their followers.

Some letters from the IRS asked for copies of the groups' Web pages, blog posts and social media postings. This raised concerns that some tea party members would be punished for their tweets or Facebook comments by their followers.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

5/15/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: Internal Revenue Service, tea arty conservative groups, audit, questions


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The long-awaited Treasury Department inspector general report shows that some top IRS officials halted some of the questioning in early 2012, including inquiries about who their donors were, what issues were important to them and whether their top officers ever planned to run for office.

However, interviews with members of the groups are far more unsettling than what the report which says the IRS "requested irrelevant (unnecessary) information because of a lack of managerial review, at all levels, of questions before they were sent to organizations seeking tax-exempt status."

The president of the Waco Tea Party Toby Marie Walker puts it plainly. "They were asking for a U-Haul truck's worth of information." Several of the said groups were asked for résumés of top officers and descriptions of interviews with the media, and one group was asked to provide "minutes of all board meetings since your creation."

Some letters from the IRS asked for copies of the groups' Web pages, blog posts and social media postings. This raised concerns that some tea party members would be punished for their tweets or Facebook comments by their followers.

Each letter had a stern warning about "penalties of perjury," which became intimidating for groups that were being asked about future activities, like future donations or endorsements.

The American Patriots Against Government Excess was asked to provide summaries or copies of all material passed out at meetings. Eager to comply, the group said it had been reading "The 5000 Year Leap" by Cleon Skousen and the U.S. Constitution. Group president Marion Bower sent a copy of both to the IRS. "I don't have time to write a book report for them," she said.

The Albuquerque Tea Party was asked about connections to other groups such as Conspiracy Brews, Marianne Chiffelle's Breakfasts, Concerned Citizens for Limited Government, Concerned Citizens for Common Sense.

The IRS investigations took over a period of time. Several conservative group leaders spoke of 18 months or more of delays, only to get letters early last year demanding answers to detailed questions within a few weeks.

"The thing that would characterize the attitude of the IRS was silence. We submitted our application, and it would be almost a year before we would get an answer back," Laurence Nordvig, the executive director of the Richmond Tea Party says. "It's not like we were talking to someone every day and they were being polite or rude. We weren't hearing from them at all."

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