Documents sent to Tea Party groups from Cincinnati IRS workers - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

FOX19 Investigates: Documents sent to Tea Party groups from local IRS workers

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CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

 

Amid the controversy over the IRS allegedly targeting Tea Party and Liberty groups applying for non-profit status, FOX19 continues to push forward with an investigation into four local IRS workers.

We have obtained multiple IRS letters sent to groups nationwide, which were sent by Cincinnati IRS workers that conservative groups allege contained controversial questionnaires. 
Liberty Township Tea Party's questionnaire, signed by Cincinnati IRS worker Mitch Steele, asked about the organization's relationship with one specific individual. 

"That was disturbing, the personal nature of the inquiries," said Liberty Township Tea Party member Katy Kern.

The paperwork sent to the group Kentucky 9/12 Project, also signed by Steele, requested its Facebook and Twitter activity.

"There was no reason why we got the scrutiny and many others didn't along the way," argued Eric Wilson, Kentucky 9/12 President.

When FOX19 knocked on his home, Steele didn't answer. Later on the phone, he said he had no comment.

Another Cincinnati IRS worker, Carly Young, sent a letter to TheTeaParty.net asking for board members who may run for public office. A letter was also sent from Young to the San Antonio Tea Party asking for web and Internet pages, including all pages that are accessible only to members.

When FOX19's Cory Stark went to the address listed for Carly Young, a woman answered the door saying, "No comment, and please leave me alone."

Two other local IRS officials connected to documents sent to non-profit groups didn't answer. 
In the meantime, affected organizations are hoping the IRS will answer in hearings on Capitol Hill.

"I think we need an investigation to get all the facts, and then once we get all the facts, and then, I think the people who are wrong should be charged," said Larry Nordvig.

Nordvig is the Executive Director of the Richmond Tea Party. His IRS letter came from Stephen Seok, one of the Cincinnati workers who we tried to contact.

"The one that troubled me the most, I think, was the fact that they asked for our donors' names, information, whether they had run for political office before, whether they were going to run for political office," explained Nordvig.
Before he resigned, former acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller singled out low-level Cincinnati 'rogue' workers as leading the charge. However, targeted organizations across the country like the Richmond Tea Party aren't buying it.

"This is bigger than just a few rogues in a cubicle, and I can guarantee you more of that's going to come out," said Nordvig.

"To say it's low-level is just flat-out crock," said Kern.

"I don't think they have ultimate blame whatsoever. These people were instructed to do this by someone, and the question is, who did that," said Tom Zawistowski. 

Zawistowski helped lead the Ohio Liberty Coalition's IRS tax exemption effort.

"Anybody who reads those documents certainly is going to question the judgment of these people. I mean, quite frankly, anyone with a fifth grade education could read them and know that's wrong," said Zawistowski.

"Anyone in the government that is involved in this activity has to get fired. If you don't uphold everyone of these people accountable, even the ones that are just following orders, this will happen again," said Dan Backer.

Dan Backer says he's representing six organizations who claim to have been targeted by the IRS.

"I think those low-level agents should be really smart right now and start blowing the whistle on their bosses because they have the most exposure at the moment," said Backer.

For his client, TheTeaParty.net, the main focus is getting answers.

"What they deserve is to be compelled to tell the truth," said Niger Innis, chief strategist of TheTeaParty.net.

Alleging that while Cincinnati workers may have their names on the IRS documents, higher ups were signing off.

"These four individuals may very well become sacrificial lambs, but they are not the whole story," said Innis.

Thursday was only the beginning. There are more documents obtained by FOX19 that we have just begun investigating. 

To read more about the tax-exempt application process, follow this link: http://1.usa.gov/10C36XJ


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