Beliefnet
Faith & Justice

It is outrageous.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is demanding information from Tea Party groups nationwide – information that is clearly beyond the scope of legitimate inquiries – information that violates the First Amendment.

We first wrote about this on our website earlier this week and reported that we’ve been contacted by dozens of Tea Party groups that are facing what can only be described as an intimidation campaign – an IRS demand that the groups provide information about the internal workings of their organizations – questions that are simply out of bounds. Questions like: How do you choose your members? What’s their background? Who do they associate with? What do they discuss?

Take a look at some of these problematic questions for yourself. We’ve posted some of the most egregious questions taken directly from several of the IRS information demands. They are posted here. I want you to know we are moving forward aggressively. We now represent nearly 20 Tea Party groups nationwide and have put the IRS on notice concerning our representation.

And, in just two days, we’ve already seen more than 30,000 Americans sign on to our petition demanding that Congress conduct oversight hearings on this IRS action. We believe Congress needs to get to the bottom of what the IRS is doing. If you haven’t added your name yet, please do so here.

As I told the New York Times, this intimidation campaign is as onerous as what the IRS did to the NAACP in the 1950’s and is simply unacceptable.

Here are the facts. These organizations have followed the law and applied for tax exempt status for their activities as Americans have done for decades. The problem here is the IRS has gone beyond legitimate inquiries and is demanding that these organizations answer questions that actually violate their First Amendment rights of free speech and freedom of association.

The IRS information demands sent to the Tea Party groups are not in response to complaints of wrongdoing, but instead in response to applications by the organizations for 501(c)(4) tax exempt status.

The IRS certainly has the authority to request certain information when processing applications for tax exempt status. But the truth here is this goes far beyond that legitimate purpose.

We are committed to defending our clients and are prepared to take the IRS to court if necessary.

I will keep you posted.

Jay Sekulow

 

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