WASHINGTON (AP) — The targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service could be more widespread than the agency has acknowledged.
IRS officials have said the behavior was limited to low-level workers in an office in Cincinnati. But documents obtained by The Associated Press suggest otherwise. The documents, sent from the IRS to tea party groups, show that IRS offices in California and in Washington, D.C., also sought extensive information from tea party groups who requested tax-exempt status.
A member of a tea party group in Mississippi says she went back and forth with IRS officials for three years before withdrawing an application for tax exempt status because it was taking too much time and effort. She says the IRS requested information she didn't think was relevant, including resumes of the group's members.
The targeting began in March of 2010, focused on groups with words such as "Tea Party" or "Patriots" in their applications. It later evolved to include groups that promoted the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. According to a draft of an upcoming inspector general's report, the practice ended in May of 2012.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that he's ordered a criminal investigation. He says the FBI will investigate to see if any laws were broken.