When Internal Revenue Service agents decided to target conservative groups with “unnecessary” information requests, they probably weren’t expecting Marion Bower, an Ohio woman who in 2010 founded her own Tea Party group.
“I was trying to be very cordial, but they wanted copies of unbelievable things,” the 68-year-old founder of American Patriots against Government Excess told ABC News Tuesday. “They wanted to know what materials we had discussed at any of our book studies.”
Yes, when applying for the group’s tax-exempt status, the IRS actually asked her for information regarding the books she and her colleagues read.
“They wanted a synopsis of all the books we read,” she said. “I thought, I don’t have time to write a book report. You can read them for yourselves.”
So she sent the IRS official handling her tax-exempt request in Cincinnati a copy of “The Five Thousand Year Leap” (a Glenn Beck favorite) and a paperback version of the United States Constitution.
“Bower, 68, said she did not want to cause trouble or be argumentative with the IRS, so she patiently responded to their questions about her group,” ABC News notes.
“Her group’s request was granted in March 2012, about two years after they originally applied,” the report continues.
The Ohio woman said the IRS’ demands, which included requests for agenda and minutes of their regular meetings, were absurd.
“I felt like, ‘My goodness, what in the world is going on here?’” Bower said. “Is this ever going to end?”
We know why the IRS was stonewalling Bowers.
Agency employees agents were instructed to flag applications that included the words “patriot” and “tea party,” senior IRS officials revealed last week. Conservative groups critical of government and groups designed to educate Americans on the Constitution were also flagged for further review.
“They wanted copies of our blog. They said they had already taken copies of our website. They wanted a list of all of our officers, what we do at our meeting, how our board is made up,” Bower said.
“The IRS says that it is part of its normal oversight responsibility to request additional information to ‘develop’ applications that need heightened scrutiny because tax-exempt groups might only engage in certain amounts and certain kinds of political activity,” ABC News explains.
“But Bower said her group consisted of volunteers who routinely passed out copies of the constitution at parades, and had informational meetings on anything from the health care law to disaster preparedness,” the report notes.
“We thought it would be a very simple process,” Bower said. “It wasn’t a simple process.”
Exit Question: Does this mean there’s a copy of the U.S. Constitution floating around somewhere in the IRS’ Cincinnati offices? If so, is anyone reading it?
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