By Jonathan Easley - 05/13/13 12:11 PM EDT
The largest Tea Party group in the country said Monday an apology from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for targeting conservative organizations isn’t enough.
“A simple apology on a conference call is not enough by a long shot,” Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, told Fox News. “Congress needs to investigate this and find out how many more lies the IRS is telling.”
“This is chilling,” she told CNN. “This is what happens in other countries when government agencies target and harass particular groups based on their ideology. That is deserving of so much more than just a mere apology.”
On Friday, the IRS apologized for singling out conservative groups, including those with the words “Tea Party” and “patriot” in their names, for extra scrutiny when determining whether they were eligible for tax-exempt status.
Martin said the Tea Party Patriots were one of the groups targeted by the IRS.
“We applied for our 501(c)(4) and a 501(c)(3) tax exempt status, and we still have not heard back,” she said. “The IRS has asked questions of us, like they wanted to know every single post on Facebook, every comment that any person who is a fan of ours on Facebook had ever made, all the congressmen and Senators that our supporters ever spoke to, very intrusive questions.”
Martin said her group was meeting with lawyers about potentially recouping the money they spent in the application process.
The IRS has blamed low-level employees at a Cincinnati office, saying they were looking for a way to streamline the process in the wake of a flood of applications following the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling.
Martin said she doesn’t believe the targeting was the work of only a few people at the IRS.
“I don’t know whether it came from the top or not. What I know is that there’s no way it’s just a couple of low-level employees out of Cincinnati, Ohio, who had this much influence and could affect this many groups across the country,” she said.
The Tea Party Patriots claims to represent more than 3,000 Tea Party groups in all 50 states, the largest organization of its kind.
This story was updated at 8:30 a.m.