The IRS may soon be shelling out big bucks to tea-party groups affected by the agency’s targeting of conservative groups seeking nonprofit status.
NorCal Tea Party Patriots announced yesterday that it would be filing a suit against the IRS, in coordination with Citizens for Self-Governance.
Ginny Rapini, president of the group, says it first applied for nonprofit status in March of 2010. The IRS requested more details about the group, and then 14 months passed without any additional word from the agency. In the beginning of 2012, the IRS sent Rapini an eight-page questionnaire, raising 97 points of inquiry. She responded to most of the questions, although she refused to provide addresses and names of the group’s donors and supporters.
“I waited and still heard nothing so I had my congressman, Tom McClintock, write the IRS a letter,” Rapini recounts. “He also delivered a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives that July and within three weeks, I had my acceptance letter from the IRS, but not before spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars and hundreds and hundreds of man-hours to accommodate something that wasn’t even necessary.”
Rapini is also concerned that the IRS’s actions have intimidated people from participating in tea-party events.
“I have members of our group who are saying, ‘You know what I am afraid to come to your meetings, I’m afraid to come to any rallies that you have because I’m being audited, and I’m afraid that they’re going to come after me harder,’” Rapini says.
Mark Meckler, president of Citizens for Self-Governance, anticipates other tea-party groups will join the suit. “They all spent money, time, and energy,” Meckler adds, “to comply with these requests to the extent that they could.”
“They are all damaged in the sense that it impeded their fundraising and impeded their ability to participate in the political process,” he says, “so I think they’re going to be significant damages.”
Earlier this month, Representative Steve King (R., Iowa) told National Review Online he think tea-party groups affected by the IRS’ actions should get financial compensation. True the Vote, a Texas group, also announced today it would be suing the IRS.