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Tea party targeted? IRS accused of playing dirty pool

By John Craven, Reporter, JCraven@wfmz.com
Published On: May 13 2013 05:31:00 PM CDT
Updated On: May 13 2013 05:59:40 PM CDT

The IRS is facing a "taxing" issue. A new audit reportedly accuses the agency unfairly targeting conservative political groups. The Lehigh Valley Tea Party claims it sounded the alarm a year ago.

As the Tea Party rose to prominence, the IRS targeted those groups for special scrutiny, according to a new inspector general watchdog report from the U.S. Treasury.

It's not news to Joan Campbell, chair of the Lehigh Valley Tea Party.

"We've been aware of this situation since 2012," she said.

Campbell said her group's non-profit paperwork with the IRS was stalled for a year.

According to sources, the audit will say the IRS flagged groups with names like "Tea Party," "Patriot," or "9/12 Project." In spite of protests from conservative groups as early as 2010, IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman denied the claims last year.

"There is absolutely no targeting," he said ina 2012 CNN interview. "This is the kind of back and forth when people apply for 501c4 status."

Now, both parties are calling for full congressional hearings. That includes U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R - Pennsylvania, and U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, R - Lehigh Valley.

"We need to find out how this could happen, why it happened, and make sure nothing like this ever happens again," Dent said Monday.

Democrats are calling for hearings too, including newly-elected U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D - Scranton/Easton, who called the revelations "an outrageous abuse of power" and said "the IRS should be prepared for a full investigation."

In a Monday morning news conference, President Barack Obama promised swift action.

"If, in fact, IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practices that have been reported on and were intentionally targeting conservative groups, then that's outrageous and there's no place for it," the President said. "And they have to be held fully accountable."

Campbell said she is skeptical and nervous.

"Without accountability from our government, there's nothing to say that this won't happen again," she said.

The Treasury full audit will be released later this week, CNN reported.
Tea party targeted? IRS accused of playing dirty pool