ENCINO (CBSLA.com) —Days after the Internal Revenue Service said low-level employees in a Cincinnati office showed uneven scrutiny to conservative groups with the words “tea party”, “patriots” and “9/12” in their names, new reports are emerging of the practice at IRS offices in El Monte and Laguna Nigel.
Karen Kenney of the San Fernando Valley Patriots said her local Tea Party group was politically targeted by the IRS when it applied for tax exempt status.
After Kenney filed for 501(c)(4) status for her group in 2010, she said she was sent a packet with a list of questions.
“We had in our packet 12 pages, 35 questions, with more than 80 different sub-questions all together,” said Kenney.
One of the questions on the list jumped out at her. Number 34 read: “Provide details regarding your relationship with the Tea Party Patriots and the Sacramento Patriot Movement”.
“There’s nothing in that question about taxes,” said Kenney.
“I don’t think they have a right to ask anything like that,” said Jack Barcal, an associate professor at the University of Southern California’s Leventhal School of Accounting.
Dan Schnur is the director of Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC. He said he believes the problem appears to be widespread.
“At the very worst, if it turns out the President’s appointees knew about it then it has the makings of a major scandal,” said Schnur.
Kenney said she ultimately pulled her application to the IRS last year after one of the questions went too far.
“When the IRS asked for information on the names and identities, and ways to contact our members, I said no,” Kenney said, fearing that her members would become the subjects of increased scrutiny.
Attorney General Eric Holder has ordered the U.S. Justice Department to open a criminal investigation.