“Recent media reports indicate that the EO Division is using inappropriate and intimidating investigation tactics in the administration of applications for exempt status submitted by organizations associated with the Tea Party movement,” Levin wrote.
“The information demanded in many cases goes far beyond the appropriate level of inquiry regarding the religious, charitable and/or educational activities of a tax exempt entity. The inquiries are not relevant to these permitted activities. Inquiries extend to organizational policy positions and priorities, personal and poltiical affiliations, and associations of staff, board members and even family members of staff and board members.”
“Finally,” said Levin, “reports that Tea Party-related organizations are being singled out for the IRS’s intrusive inquries raises serious questions about the propriety of the personnel involved in the evaluation of tax exemption applications.”
It appears the IRS has been used to harass and intimidate Tea Party organizations, demanding information beyond the scope of their legitimate inquiry. Such actions are a violation of the citizen's First Amendment rights. Said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice:
"These organizations have followed the law and applied for tax exempt status for their activities as Americans have done for decades. 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.”Mr. Levin's Landmark Legal Foundation also asked the inspector general to “determine whether the relevant IRS employees are acting at the direction of politically motivated superiors.”