A liberal group on Wednesday said it had faced the same level of scrutiny from the IRS that was applied to tea party groups.
“Progress Texas and the Tea Party strongly disagree on the role of government,” the group’s executive director, Ed Espinoza, said in a statement. “Yet, when we applied for tax-exempt status, Progress Texas received the same type of additional scrutiny that Tea Party groups are complaining about. The similar treatment indicates the IRS was likely addressing a flood of 501c4 applications after Citizens United, and undermines the paranoid notion that Tea Party groups were singled out.”
An IRS letter (PDF) published by Progress Texas online Thursday showed the liberal group was given 22 days to respond to a list of 21 questions. Some of the questions included up to nine sub-questions.
The questions resembled the list of 35 questions (PDF) sent to the Liberty Township Tea Party, which has complained of IRS harassment.
Though the line of questioning was generally the same, there were some key differences between the lists of questions.
The Liberty Township Tea Party was asked to provide copies of all its activity on Facebook and Twitter, while the Progress Texas was not. The Liberty Township Tea Party was asked for more specific information about the employment background of its officials, including copies of resumes, while Progress Texas was asked for more general information. The tea party group was also asked whether any of its officials had served on the board of another organization or planned to run for office.
Both groups were told to provide printouts of all of their respective website pages, including pages restricted to members. Both were asked to divulge detailed information regarding the activities of another organization and their relationship to it.
An inspector general report released Tuesday found the IRS had inappropriately targeted tea party groups for additional review based solely on their name.
Of the nearly 300 groups that received extra scrutiny, about one-third were selected because of their conservative name. According to the inspector general’s report, the IRS flagged 72 “tea party” groups, 11 “9/12″ groups and 13 “patriots” groups for additional review. The IRS flagged an additional 202 groups, which the report classified as “other.” The ideology of these 202 groups is unclear.
The report found the IRS took an average of 574 days to process applications for these groups, while applications not flagged for review took an average of 238 days. It took Progress Texas 479 days to receive their tax-exempt status from the IRS.
“Potential political cases took significantly longer than average to process due to ineffective management oversight,” the IG report stated.
Bloomberg reported Tuesday that at least two other liberal groups, Emerge America and Clean Elections Texas, also received additional scrutiny from the IRS.
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