WASHINGTON — Between 2010 and 2012, the IRS asked tea party groups a whole lot of questions.
As admitted by the IRS, and as detailed in a forthcoming Inspector General report, the agency targeted conservative organizations seeking tax-exempt status for issue advocacy, a standard practice for political groups that aren’t mainly about elections.
The IRS sent long questionnaires to the organizations, and documents obtained by ABC News show that the questions were extensive. The Richmond Tea Party, for instance, was asked 17 detailed questions in 2010, and 12 more, with lots of bulleted sub-questions, in 2012. Other groups were asked about 30 questions in one letter, and most of the letters were similar, with some specific, quirky questions added or subtracted.
The Liberty Township Tea Party in Ohio got it worst, as the IRS asked about its relationship with a Cincinnati-area tea-party organizer and with a local group.
“It’s just hundreds of hours and plenty of money, and this was not something any American would want to have to deal with,” said Larry Nordvig, executive director of the Richmond Tea Party, who joined the group earlier this year after its IRS saga was over.
Here are some of the weirdest and most notable questions and requests that ABC found in roughly half a dozen IRS questionnaires sent to tea party groups from 2010 to 2012:
- “Provide a list of all issues that are important to your organization. Indicate your position regarding each issue.”
- “Please explain in detail the derivation of your organization’s name.” (in a letter to the Ohio-based 1851 Center for Constitutional Law)
- “Please explain in detail your organization’s involvement with the Tea Party.”
- “Provide details regarding your relationship with Justin Binik-Thomas.” (a Cincinnati-area Tea-Party activist)
- “Provide information regarding the Butler County Teen Age Republicans and your relationship.”
- “Submit the following information relating to your past and present directors, officers, and key employees: a) Provide a resume for each.”
- “The names of the donors, contributors, and grantors. … The amounts of each of the donations, contributions, and grants and the dates you received them.”
- “The names of persons from your organization and the amount of time they spent on the event or program.” (for events)
- “Provide copies of the handbills you distributed at your monthly meetings.”
- “Fully describe your youth outreach program with the local school.”
- “Please provide copies of all your current web pages, including your Blog posts. Please provide copies of all of your newsletters, bulletins, flyers, newsletters or any other media or literature you have disseminated to your members or others. Please provide copies of stories and articles that have been published about you.”
- “Are you on Facebook or other social networking sites? If yes, provide copies of these pages.”
- “Provide copies of the agendas and minutes of your Board meetings and, if applicable, members ship meetings, including a description of legislative and electoral issues discussed, and whether candidates for political office were invited to address the meeting.”
- “Do your issue-related advocacy communications compare to the positions of candidates or slates of candidates on these issues with your positions? Provide copies of these communications. What percentage do these constitute of your issue-related advocacy communications?”
- “Do you have a close relationship with any candidate for political office or political party? If so describe fully the nature of that relationship.”
- “Apart from your responses to the preceding, estimate the percentage of your time and what percentage of your resources you will devote to activities in the 2012 election cycle, in which you will explicitly or implicitly support or oppose a candidate, candidates or slates of candidates, for public office.”