DENVER — At least two Colorado Tea Party groups believe they have been the target of unfair auditing tactics that have been exposed by several national media outlets over the course of the last week..
According to spokespersons for both groups, the Western Slope Conservative Alliance and the Colorado Tea Party Patriots applied for a nonprofit, social welfare status in 2010. As of Tuesday, both groups say they still haven’t been approved to operate under the tax code.
The IRS has admitted that conservative groups were targeted for extra scrutiny.
“This whole episode reinforces and confirms the American people’s worst fears about big government run amok,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., told Fox News.
President Barack Obamaa called the practices “outrageous” and “unacceptable,” but many Republicans say this is just the latest in a series of cover-ups by the administration.
The unresolved cases involving the IRS include claims of media leaks on private donor information during last year’s presidential race and other instances of political profiling.
The latest claim about IRS misconduct came Tuesday from ProPublica, a Pulitzer Prize-winning progressive journalism group, which reported that the same Cincinnati IRS branch accused of targeting conservative groups released nine confidential applications of conservative groups to them last year.
Critics had long questioned how ProPublica got that information. ProPublica put the speculation to rest on Tuesday. The media outlet said it had requested 67 applications for nonprofits in 2012. They were given 31. Of those, nine had not been approved and therefore should not have been made public.
ProPublica ultimately published six of them, despite late-breaking objections from the IRS. The agency reportedly told the organization that it should not have received the confidential applications.
The IRS now says that its latest program of flagging conservative groups for additional scrutiny was inappropriate, but not partisan. An inspector general report unveiled Tuesday urged the IRS to clean up its operation, and Attorney General Eric Holder also announced he had “ordered an investigation” into the IRS controversy and that his office was “examining the facts to see if there were criminal violations.”