Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) on Tuesday asked his House colleagues to investigate what he said was the IRS's harassment of a Tea Party group in his district.
In a floor speech, McClintock said the Internal Revenue Service demanded thousands of pages of documents from the group and took steps that could only have been designed to harass the group when it applied for nonprofit status.
McClintock did not identify the Tea Party group in his district, but said the IRS demanded the names of all the participants who attended group meetings for the past two years, transcripts of the meetings, and other documents pertaining to the group's status as a nonprofit organization.
He called the demands "intimidation and harassment," and compared them to the tactics used against civil-rights groups during the 1950s.
"Ironically, the same tactics you now see used by the IRS against Tea Parties were once used by the most abusive of the Southern states in the 1950s to intimidate civil-rights groups like the NAACP," he said.
McClintock said the leader of the Tea Party group was subject to a personal income tax audit from the IRS shortly after the group applied for its 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status.
"This administration is very clearly, very pointedly, and very deliberately attempting to intimidate, harass and threaten civic-minded groups with which they disagree using one of the most feared and powerful agencies in the United States government to do so," said McClintock.
The American Center for Law and Justice is representing almost 20 Tea Party organizations across the United States in an effort to stop what they see is an attempt to intimidate these groups. ACLJ chief counsel Jay Sekulow said last week that the demands for information from the groups are outside the scope of legitimate inquiry and violate the group's First Amendment rights.
"These organizations have followed the law and applied for tax exempt status for their activities as Americans have done for decades," Sekulow said. "The problem here is the IRS has gone beyond legitimate inquiries and is demanding that these organizations answer questions that actually violate the First Amendment rights of our clients."
The ACLJ is currently urging Congress to conduct hearings about the IRS actions involving the Tea Party groups.