After the Internal Revenue Service admitted it unfairly targeted Tea Party organizations applying for tax-exempt status, the agency added that it gave similar scrutiny several liberal groups.
Democratic group Emerge America, which trains and encourages women to run for office, was actually denied tax-exempt status. None of the Republican groups had their applications rejected by the IRS.
Progressive group Progress Texas was given the same line of questioning from the IRS office as Tea Party groups. Clean Elections Texas, which aims to start a public fund for campaigns, also received IRS inquiries when they applied.
The IRS released a statement yesterday claiming it pooled politically active nonpartisan applicants, a “minority” chosen because of their names. “It is also important to understand that the group of centralized cases included organizations of all political views,” said the IRS statement.
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IRS officials told lawmakers that 471 groups received this added scrutiny as part of a crack down on politically active nonprofit groups.
Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said the added scrutiny put Tea Party groups "in a state of purgatory where they often languished without action for periods as long as two years."
Progress Texas had a positive response to the extra scrutiny it received. "I'm not saying it was fun but it was important," said a Progress Texas spokesperson.
“We didn’t even get the opportunity to answer questions,” said Karen Middleton, president of Emerge America. “We would have welcomed the opportunity to respond to a questionnaire.” the national organization was shocked that the agency revoked approvals on Oct 21, 2011.
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The Senate Finance Committee is conducting its own IRS invetigation. Committee member Rob Wyden, D-Oreg., believes legislation must be put in place to simply require all groups spending money in politics to disclose donors.
“These problems will continue as long as there is an absence of clear and enforceable rules,” Wyden told reporters yesterday. “In the absence of clear and enforceable rules the bureaucracy pretty much makes it up as they go along.”