The San Antonio Tea Party was one of the conservative groups which was harassed by the Internal Revenue Service as part of the growing scandal over the IRS singling out conservative organizations for discriminatory audits, 1200 WOAI news reports.
“There were reams of paper that we had to produce,” George Rodriguez, who was President of the San Antonio Tea Party in 2011 when the group applied for tax exempt status. “Everything from requirement e-mails to lists of who it was that we met with and when.”
Rodriguez, who has a long career in political and non profit groups, said he knew right away that this was unusual.
“Those of us who had been involved in politics and had been involved in putting together an organization knew that it was not the norm.”
He says the group was concerned about the type of questions, asking for donor lists and so forth, but he said he had to comply with the questions because it was the IRS doing the asking.
Rodriguez says the San Antonio Tea Party eventually received tax exempt status, but he said the non profit group which operates on a shoestring had to spend about $6,000 on lawyers fees to fight through the morass of intimidating questions from the IRS. He is no longer head of the local Tea Party, but he expects the group will consider suing the IRS to recover those expenses.
Rodriguez finds it ironic that the group which he now heads, the South Texas Alliance for Progress, did not receive nearly the same scrutiny when it applied for tax exempt status, possibly because rather than having the words ‘Tea Party’ in its name, it has the word ‘Progress,’ which implies it is a ‘progressive’ group.
“I would like to know whether COPS/Metro had to go through the same process we did in applying for tax exempt status,” he said, saying he doubts the scrutiny was even close.
COPS, or Communities Organized for Public Service, and Metro Alliance, are two organizations which are active in progressive and liberal causes in San Antonio.
Rodriguez says the emerging IRS scandal, in the end, will in fact justify the existence of the Tea Party, and reinforce the suspicions which led to the creation of the organization to begin with.
“The Tea Party was formed by people who were concerned about taxation,” he said. “The TEA stands for ‘Taxed Enough Already.’ These are people who were worried about over taxation. And then to have the very agency which collects taxes to do this. That shows exactly that we are on the right track. We have an out of control government that is dangerous.”