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Government and Politics

Ohio tea partier helped trigger the national investigation of the IRS
Portage tea party head raised concerns with Ohio's U.S. senator and congressmen about why conservative groups were being grilled

Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
Tom Zawistowski holds a binder full of material requested by the IRS for the 501(c)4, tax-exempt application he filed for the Ohio Liberty Coalition. Zawistowski's complaints, along with those of other conservative groups targeted by the IRS, has led to congressional hearings and a Justice Dept. investigation of the practices.
Courtesy of Jeff St.Clair
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The IRS has admitted to targeting conservative groups for enhanced scrutiny during the 2010 and 2012 elections and WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair reports an Ohio group was one of the first to raise the issue.

LISTEN: St. Clair on the tea party complaints

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The head of the Portage County tea party has accepted the apology of the IRS for targeting his and other conservative organizations.  Tom Zawistowski was also president of the Ohio Liberty Coalition during during the election.  He says in early 2012 his group received requests from the IRS for information on the group’s activities and members in response to its application for tax exempt status.

“Things like every speaker that ever spoke to us, a list of every group that is a member of the Ohio Liberty Coalition, including their federal tax payer ID number.”

Zawistowski refused, and he complained to U.S. Sen. Rob Portman and Congressman Jim Jordan and other Republican lawmakers.  The complaints grew and erupted into a full-fledged scandal with congressional hearings and a Justice Department investigation into the IRS practices, centered on the Cincinnati office that oversees tax- except groups.

Zawistowski says he and his lawyers eventually settled with the IRS.

“But they did not get the list of our members, they did not get the list of our donors, they did not get the transcripts from our speeches, because that is none of their business and it has nothing to do with our tax-except status, it has to do with opposition research by the Obama campaign.”

Zawistowski says the Ohio Liberty Coalition received its 501 (c) 4 status in December 2012, one month after the election.

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