EXCLUSIVE: IRS letter lists demands for Richmond Tea Party info

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Richmond Tea Party is one of a handful of groups at the center of the ongoing scandal involving the Internal Revenue Service.

NBC12 obtained a seven-page letter sent to the Richmond Tea Party by the Internal Revenue Service in January 2012 in response to the group's request for non-profit status. The lengthy letter asks the group to provide a vast array of information, due in part to the IRS' failure to act on information provided by the group more than 14 months earlier.

The letter was sent by IRS employees in Cincinnati, who were called 'rogue' and 'off the reservation' by acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller prior to his resignation on Wednesday. Miller says the employees have already been disciplined for targeting Tea Party and Liberty groups applying for non-profit status.

FOX19.com reports the number of employees involved may actually be four workers, all of whom worked for the IRS Exempt Organizations Department. The department has admitted publicly to sending letters to Tea Party and other conservative organizations. The employees now face disciplinary action and may have criminal charges for their roles in the scandal, according to Fox19.com.

One of FOX19's two sources said these four IRS workers claim "they simply did what their bosses ordered." Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax exempt organizations, was told on June 29, 2011 that groups with 'Tea Party', 'Patriot' or '9/12 Project' in their names were being flagged for additional, and often burdensome, scrutiny.

According to the letter, the Richmond Tea Party submitted forms to the IRS on October 22, 2010, however the IRS required more information because the agency took more than 14 months to respond.

The letter asks for a list of all events and programs conducted by the Richmond Tea Party during the 14 month period, along with copies of handouts, names and credentials of organizers, and the contents of any speeches or forums delivered.

The letter continues by asking for copies of all publications or advertising materials distributed, copies of the Richmond Tea Party web pages, and presentations they posted on other sites, blogs and social networks.

It also asks the Richmond Tea Party to send copies of all communications, pamphlets and ads distributed to try and influence specific legislation and any work they've done for any candidates for public office.

The form additionally asks for the total number of member, a list of donors, amounts of donations and recipients of any funds.

In addition to the Richmond Tea Party, FOX19 confirmed Cincinnati employees made large requests of information from the Ohio Liberty Council in January 2012, the Liberty Township Tea Party in March 2012 and Washington, D.C. lawyer Dan Backer in February 2012. Backer helped six small conservative groups apply for 501c4 status.

The Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation, which is a coalition of 46 independent Tea Party and patriot groups, called the IRS actions a violation of constitutional rights and rejected the agency's apology. It claims 75 Tea Party and Patriot groups were affected between 2009 and 2012, including several in Virginia.

"The Shenandoah Valley Tea Party Patriots spent 26 months working through the tortuous tax-exempt process, and spent 235 hours to compile a 10-pound report measuring seven inches thick, to comply with a second-round of IRS information requests," said Mark Daugherty, Chairman, Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation. "The tea party groups targeted should also be reimbursed for the extra time and expense forced upon them in attempting to comply with these illegal, threatening mandates handed down against them by the IRS."

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