WASHINGTON – An advocacy group for the downtrodden Mississippi Delta on Friday called for continued administrative, legislative and criminal investigations of IRS targeting of conservative Tea Party groups.
The Delta Grassroots Caucus urged President Obama and Congress to continue the IRS probe to establish all the facts saying that if a federal agency can target any groups based on their political beliefs and activities then all other private sector advocacy organizations are not safe.
“It’s a sad day in our country when we have to fear we’ll be targeted by the federal government because of our political beliefs and affiliations,” said State Rep. Mark McElroy, D-Tillar, who if vice chairman of the caucus.
The IRS this month revealed that beginning in March 2010 it had targeted “Tea Party” “Patriots” and similarly named groups applying for tax-exempt status for extra scrutiny and did not approve any Tea Party organization applications for more than two years.
The American Center for Law and Justice on Wednesday filed a lawsuit on behalf of 25 groups alleging the IRS and Obama administration “unlawfully delayed and thereby effectively denied approval” of the applications for tax exempt status based solely on the political views of the groups.
“We call on President Obama and bipartisan forces in Congress to take this unique opportunity to restrict the rude, authoritarian culture and attitudes of the IRS,” said Lee Powell, executive director of the caucus. “While the IRS has never audited or targeted our organization, they also impose a great deal of red tape, they usually feel little or no responsibility to explain their arcane rules and many of them feel free to be rude to citizens or organizations who have questions about their regulations.”
The Delta Grassroots Caucus is a coalition of nonprofit and for-profit organizations and individuals that primarily promotes economic and community development for the poor in the Mississippi Delta region. It is registered as a corporation and is not tax exempt.
“This was done precisely so that on those occasions where we have to take a stand on a political issue that some might consider controversial or “partisan,’ we did not want to have any concern about being threatened by the federal government with loss of tax-exempt status,” Powell said.
McElroy said that the caucus is basically a centrist group of moderate Democrats, moderate Republicans, Independents and politically neutral nonprofits.
“Most of our partners don’t agree with the Tea Party, so nobody can say with any credibility that we are sympathetic to their plight based on agreeing with their views – far from it,” he said.