Vowing to Sue IRS, Tea Partiers Descend on DC

Others echoed the sentiment.

"We had to stop raising funds, and it has all but killed my organization," said Jay Devereaux, who said his group, Unite in Action, formed as a corporation before requesting 501(c)4 status and still has not been granted a decision, one way or another, by the IRS.

His group hosted a civic-engagement training session at the Omni Shoreham hotel in Washington and the IRS requested details on all speakers and educational materials disseminated in the 78 classes the group held, Devereaux said, a request he simply could not meet.

Now, his group remains in limbo, he said, owing money to funders and wondering about its status. His group would owe "somewhere in the neighborhood of $70,000 in back-taxes" if his request for 501(c)4 status were denied, Devereaux said.

But while the activists said extra IRS scrutiny had crippled them financially, they also said the IRS controversy has brought more interest to the tea party movement. Asked whether they'd gotten more member signups and donations since the IRS' apology brought attention to the incident, the activists nodded and affirmed.

"Not money, but support," Walker said.

Tom Zawistowski of the Ohio Liberty Coalition said, "They're afraid of the money. We need this to be settled. We're going to have a problem for a little bit."

FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe said interest in his group has spiked on social media since the IRS story became big news.

To all the activists who spoke to reporters, the IRS activities meant vindication of the tea party movement's central complaint about perceived government excess and a bloated, overbearing federal government. When the movement began in 2009, accusations of President Obama's "socialist takeover" were common at rallies, and the movement's opposition to government spending, taxes and debt were couched in allegations that the government had grown too big and too intrusive.

"It's a vindication of us, of all the terrible, horrible things that were said about us," Zawistowski said.

The irony of the situation was not lost on the activists who came to Washington to decry it. The tea party movement has opposed taxes and, at times, tea party GOP candidates have proposed eliminating the IRS. A movement dedicated to opposing government overreach now finds itself a victim of the very thing it warned about, activists said.

"The irony of us all being here, again talking about the IRS is amazing," Susan McLaughlin of the Liberty Township Tea Party in Ohio said, "because that's what started the tea party movement in our community."

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