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Sunday, 19 May 2013

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Tax agency scandal thrusts tea party back into spotlight

18 May AFP

Left adrift in the wake of President Barack Obama's November election victory, the anti-tax Tea Party is predicting renewed popularity and relevance thanks to the scandal now rocking the IRS.

The federal tax agency admitted this week that it inappropriately screened conservative groups, in particular those with "Tea Party" or "Patriots" in their names, as they sought tax-exempt status.

"A government that's this intrusive is clearly excessive," Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the movement's Tea Party Patriots umbrella group, said Thursday at an event coordinated by Congresswoman and one-time Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann.

"Tea Party groups have been waiting for years for the IRS to treat us fairly and equally. Instead, they have singled us out for discrimination and persecution." Many had their applications for non-profit status delayed for months or even years. Some faced onerous questioning, or demands for a group's entire catalog of postings on social network sites like Facebook and Twitter.

A member of the group American Patriots Against Government Excess was asked to write a book report for the Internal Revenue Service for every book her group had read, Martin said.

Such revelations touched off a firestorm in a city where Obama's Democrats thought they might have seen the last of the Tea Party influence that shook up American politics in the 2010 mid-term elections, when several people aligned with the movement were elected to Congress.

 

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