(CNSNews.com) —Todd Cefaratti, founder of TheTeaParty.net, welcomed back reporters during a press conference addressing the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) alleged targeting of conservative groups’ tax-exemption applications on Thursday.
“First of all, I would like to thank the press for being here,” Cefaratti said. “Welcome you back from your four-and-a-half-year vacation covering events like this.”
TeaParty.net was established in 2009 and is committed to “the education and advancement of the constitutional conservative values of the Tea Party movement.” Its application for tax-exempt status as a 501c(4) is still in limbo. Cefaratti was joined by other Tea Party supporters and numerous members of Congress at the Capitol Hill press conference.
"The IRS event, the scandal, is a pattern, actually, it's not an isolated event," he said. "This is why we started Tea Party organizations over three years ago. We've seen these patterns of government tyranny happening, and this is just the house of cards beginning to fall apart."
In addition to the still-unfolding IRS scandal, Cefaratti noted the Department of Justice’s seizure of phone records of the Associated Press as constituting a part of that “government tyranny.”
“You’ve seen it, as you know, in the press also with the seizing of the phone records,” he said. "This is not a left or right issue. It's an American issue."
"TheTeaParty.net was actually one of the organizations targeted" by the IRS, said Cefaratti. "We applied for a 501c(4) over three years ago and to this day have not received a status. We've had three rounds of questions."
TheTeaParty.net reportedly has about three million members. Cefaratti said the IRS wanted three years’ worth of donor lists, private emails, as well as Facebook and Twitter communications.
“This is private information,” he said. “It has to make a chill go down your spine. Why would the government want this personal information on American citizens? And we're not about to give that information to them.”
As for the Justice Department seizing AP phone records, Cefaratti also said, “I would just like to be the first one to welcome the press as part of the Tea Party movement. So, welcome.”
As thsi story was posted, a spokesman for TheTeaParty.net said that the group's application for tax-exempt status "is still pending for 3+ years, through [now] 4 rounds of inquiry, and we're not sure what kind of retribution the IRS will throw our way now that we are publicly standing up to their unconstitutional discrimination against conservatives."