Is This Big Tea Party Group Really an Innocent Victim of the IRS?

Mother Jones

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Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin has been all over the airwaves since the IRS story broke, talking about how her group was among those whose applications for nonprofit status were unfairly targeted for extra scrutiny. She has called the IRS’ actions a “disturbing, illegal, and outrageous abuse of government power.” She told Fox News that Tea Party Patriots wants the agency repay it for expenses it incurred as a result of the “intrusive” questions it asked, including requests for “every single post on Facebook” and “every comment that any person who’s a fan of ours on Facebook had ever made.” On Friday, lawyers for her group sent a letter to the IRS alerting the agency to coming lawsuits over its “illegal” conduct.

But while the IRS has admitted to unfairly targeting some conservative groups, Tea Party Patriots, a national umbrella organization for the grassroots movement, may not have been one of them. As I reported last week, although IRS officials engaged in misconduct, they also may have had good reason in some cases to scrutinize groups whose financial and tax histories raised questions, including Tea Party Patriots. The group engaged in a type of creative accounting that the IRS said it specifically planned to crack down on, and TPP drew criticism from some of its own constituents for a lack of financial transparency. Moreover, the IRS received a formal complaint about TPP—when I filed one in 2011 after the group refused to provide me with a financial disclosure required by law.

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Is This Big Tea Party Group Really an Innocent Victim of the IRS?

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