The Tea Party backed 1851 Center for Constitutional Law is adding its name to conservative groups saying they were harassed by the IRS.
Director Maurice Thompson says the IRS asked the center to detail its involvement with the Tea Party when it applied for tax-exempt status in 2010. Thompson says the request pre-dated previously cited IRS targeting. He says the center was not applying for political or lobbying status and had none of the IRS' targeted key words in its name or application. The Justice Department is investigating "inappropriate targeting" the IRS says was initiated by low-level employees in its Cincinnati office and not motivated by political bias. The center's tax-exemption was ultimately granted. Meanwhile Republican U.S. Senator Rob Portman of Ohio is criticizing the Obama administration over the issue. Portman is promising to continue pressing for answers at Senate hearings next week. M.L. Schultze of member station WKSU in Kent reports.
Portman wasted no time in his weekly conference call with reporters in getting to the IRS scandal. He noted that he wrote a letter in March of last year raising questions about why the IRS was delaying approval of nonprofit status for conservative groups. He said flatly he doesn’t believe President Obama only found out about it last week, doesn’t believe it was limited to lower level employees in the IRS’s Cincinnati office and isn’t satisfied by the firing of the IRS acting administrator.
“I think it involves a fundamental principle that the government should be even handed, treat us all fairly and I think it erodes trust in government that’s already weak.”
Portman acknowledges there are legitimate reasons for the IRS to examine nonprofit requests, but this wasn’t among them.
Asked if he thinks the presidential election would have come out differently had the tea party and other groups been able to organize earlier, Portman said he does not know.