TEA PARTY | The first of a likely long line of Tea Party organizations seeking relief from allegations the Internal Revenue Service targeted them and other conservative non-profit groups comes from Northern California.
The NorCal Tea Party Patriots, centered in Colfax, Calif. filled a lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court accusing the IRS of violating its constitutional rights. The lawsuit alleges the IRS the engaged in “intensive and intrusive scrutiny" while it sought non-profit tax status.
The group says it took well over two years for it to obtain its non-profit status under Section 501(c)(4) of the tax code. It finally received the exemption last August, but only after turning over onerous amounts of paperwork detailing emails between members, names of contributors who gave minuscule amounts of money and copies of speeches given at their events.
The Tea Party group is also seeking damages and will attempt to gain class-action status for the complaint. Nearly 300 conservative groups may have been flagged by the IRS because of attachments of words like “Tea Party” and “conservative” in their names.
“We stand shoulder to shoulder with all those known and unknown who have been abused by a federal government run amok. Instead of just playing defense, it is time for the citizens to go on offense,” said Mark Meckler, a founder of Tea Party Patriots and president of Citizens for Self-Governance, the group behind Monday’s lawsuit. He added, because the Congress provides funding and guidelines for the IRS, neither Democrats or Republicans can be trusted to reform the tax-collecting body.
Although the Bay Area is a well-known denizen of liberal thought and support, the outer lying areas in the north and east of the Highway 580 corridor are increasingly supportive of the conservative-tinged cause. One of the largest Tea Party events in the state, in fact, occurred over two years ago at the Pleasanton County Fairgrounds.