Top representatives of the nation's Tea Party movement on Thursday lashed out at President Obama for using the IRS to shut down free speech and harass his enemies, claiming that the cost of fighting back hurt the movement.
"The damage the IRS caused may be immeasurable. There are concrete monetary damages," charged Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots. "There are groups of volunteers who gave up on collectively petitioning their government and others who never attempted to apply to tax exempt status because they saw what other citizens endured. There are groups like Tea Party Patriots who to this day the IRS is still stringing along."
At a press conference with other Tea Party groups, she said that several gave up seeking tax exempt status due the IRS harassment, damaging their finances. One group, said Martin, the Myrtle Beach Tea Party, lost 100 members "as a result of the overbearing nature of the IRS' inquisition. They still have not received final word from the IRS."
Other groups were pushed into revealing what they read. "The IRS questioned Marion Bower and her group Americans Patriots Against Government Excess asking for a list of every book their book club read and a book report on each of these books. A government this intrusive is clearly excessive," said Martin.
"The IRS' thuggish, discriminatory, abusive schemes and tactics perfectly illustrate why we must have a government that is constitutionally limited - meaning - we must have a government small enough to manage and execute its duties competently and with integrity, and most importantly, a government we the people can trust," she said.
She also called for an independent audit of the IRS. "The IRS' veneer of impartiality is shattered and the IRS must be audited. Tea Party Patriots insists on an independent, transparent, outside, and thorough investigation because the IRS cannot be trusted to self-police and the Justice Department is also suffering from extreme lack of credibility at this moment," she said.