The IRS scandal took a new turn Tuesday morning, as members of the House Ways and Means Committee heard testimony from leaders of Tea Party and conservative organizations who were targeted by the agency.
The testimony was opened by Kevin Kookogey, Founder and President of Linchpins of Liberty, who spoke about how the IRS’s unfair treatment of his application for non-profit status had suppressed his group’s activity. He urged Congress to “act with the moral resolve to check the power of the executive branch.”
Diane Belsom of the Laurens County Tea Party in South Carolina detailed the process through which her organization had attempted to comply with the IRS’s comically exhaustive questions, including inquiries about social media sites and any potential remarks by guest speakers at events about upcoming elections.
John Eastman, Chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, told the story of how the IRS had leaked that group’s confidential list of donors to liberal groups that opposed its positions, in apparent violation of the law. Eastman noted his organization’s unhappiness and disgust at “unacceptable conduct in our democracy.” Ironically, he said, when his group first complained, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration investigated them instead of investigating the IRS.
Karen Kenny of the San Fernando Valley Patriots spoke about the patriotism of her group and objected to being singled out while liberal groups–often those devoted to destroying the constitutional foundation of the republic–were given a free pass. “We’re the San Fernando Valley Patriots, not Occupy Oakland,” she said.
In an emotional but forceful opening statement, Becky Gerritson of the Wetumpka, AL Tea Party told Congress that the federal government’s behavior towards her group and others had violated the country’s founding principles. “I want to preserve and protect the America I grew up in….I’m terrified that it’s slipping away.”
The hearing was the fifth congressional hearing on the IRS scandal. The agency has failed to identify the particular individuals responsible for initiating the targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups. The White House has denied any involvement, though it knew more about the scandal than it first claimed.