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Mississippi Tea Party Group Targeted By IRS

By Evelina Burnett | Published 22 May 2013 10:11am | comments
Evelina Burnett/MPB News

A Mississippi tea party group says they were singled out for extra scrutiny by the IRS because of their conservative-sounding name. The extra scrutiny prompted the group to drop their effort to get tax-exempt status.

Several dozen members and supporters of the Mississippi Tea Party gathered outside the I-R-S office in Jackson yesterday to protest the alleged targeting of conservative groups by the federal agency. The local tea party says they are one of hundreds across the country who faced additional scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service. Executive director Julie Hodges said they wrangled with the application process for more than two years.

"Every time we would answer their questions, do what they asked us to do, they'd have another question," she said. "So for me, it's as if we would see light at the end of the tunnel, but the IRS would just build more tunnel."

Mark Mayfield, a long-time Mississippi Tea Party member, said the group was overwhelmed by the number and type of questions asked.

"They want copies of all Facebook pages and comments made on Facebook, for example," he said. "They want a list of our donors. They want to know which legislators and elected officials we've communicated with and they want transcripts of everything we've said to them."

Eventually, the group decided to withdraw its application. Mayfield said the group found out it had been singled out just recently, when news broke nationally about the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS.

The local tea party protest was among many such gatherings held outside of I-R-S offices nationwide yesterday. Mississippi Tea Party Chairman Roy Nicholson said they wanted to add their voice to the movement to say that such actions are not tolerable.

"This was criminal misuse of power," he said. "We're calling on our congressmen and senators to take on the IRS, to punish those people that are guilty of this. They need to be prosecuted. They need to go to jail."

A number of other tea party groups have filed or are considering filing suit against the IRS. Nicholson said the Mississippi Tea Party also has it under consideration but hasn’t made a final decision yet.

The Mississippi Tea Party has posted copies of both letters it received from the IRS on its website.

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Evelina Burnett/MPB News


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