IRS: ‘Explain in Detail Your Organization’s Involvement with the Tea Party’

Craig Bannister
By Craig Bannister | May 23, 2013 | 10:12 AM EDT

IRS targeting of conservative organizations seeking tax-exempt status reaches beyond just singling out political and lobbying groups, the president of an educational non-profit legal center that defends Constitutional rights tells "The Right Views."

The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law has released a document from its experience when it applied with the IRS for tax-exempt status back in 2010.

The document release was prompted by a Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report finding that, in 2010, the IRS "allowed inappropriate criteria to be developed and stay in place for 18 months" and IRS officials' apology for targeting groups with the word "tea party," "patriot" and other conservative-sounding terms or slogans.

According to a PDF of a May 20, 2010 fax the 1851 Center says it received from the IRS in response to its application for tax-exempt status, the IRS said there was "more information needed" in order to process the request for nonprofit status. Item #4 of the "Additional Information Requested" reads:

"Please explain in detail your organization's involvement with the Tea Party."

Spokesmen for both the IRS National Media Relations Office and its Cincinnati, Ohio office from which the fax appears to have originated tell "The Right Views" that, due to federal disclosure laws, the IRS is prohibited from verifying, disputing or commenting on the document.

1851 Center Executive Director Maurice Thompson says that, in its original IRS application, the 1850 Center told the IRS it was applying as an educational and civil public charity with a mission "to defend constitutional rights and human rights" - making no reference to the words "tea party" or "patriot."

Nowhere in the organization's online description does it reference the "Tea Party." It does say it is "non-partisan":

"The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law is a non-profit, non-partisan legal center dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of Ohioans from government abuse. The 1851 Center litigates constitutional issues related to property rights, voting rights, regulation, taxation, and search and seizures."

Thompson said in a statement that his organization's experience is a sign that the IRS targeted more than just political and lobbying organizations:

"As with demands made of other organizations, the IRS demand to the 1851 Center was at minimum, irrelevant, and appears to have been calculated to do political opposition research on organizations opposing the President's policies through, ironically, doing nothing more than enforcing the United States and Ohio constitutions."

"Investigators must acknowledge that the breadth of this scandal extends to not just 'tea party' groups, but to conservative and libertarian think tanks and public interest law firms across the nation."

See more "Right Views, Right Now."