Tennessee Conservative Groups Say IRS Targeted Them - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Tennessee Conservative Groups Say IRS Targeted Them

Posted: Updated:

by Mark Bellinger

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Dozens of conservative groups -- including three in Tennessee -- said they were targets of the IRS and placed under extra tax scrutiny.

Kevin Kookogey said he lost a $30,000 grant because agents with the IRS office in Cincinnati kept dragging their feet when he applied for tax exempt status, and said he has proof the responsibility for their inaction goes farther up the chain of command inside the IRS.

Kookogey said two years ago he tried to start an educational foundation focused on teaching conservatism.

"I'm not a Tea Party group. I'm not a Patriot group by name. We mentor high school and college students in conservative political philosophy. It's a one on one relationship," explained Kookogey.

However, Kookogey said the I-R-S made it too difficult to get his project called Linchpins of Liberty off the ground. After he applied for tax exempt status he started getting letters requesting information about his political views and his donors.

"It's the content of our speech. What I've said, what I've written and what I believe is the basis for this target by the IRS."

Nashville Tea Party President Ben Cunningham said conservative groups like the Tea Party have been getting the letters since 2010.

Cunningham said at least two Tea Party groups in Tennessee have been targeted -- one in Chattanooga and the other in Roane County.

"People started getting these ridiculous letters back from the IRS saying we have your application, but we want the names and addresses of all family members. One asked for all interactions with the news media," said Cunningham.

Friday, the IRS apologized for the inappropriate targeting of political conservative groups.

Many groups had the words Tea Party and Patriot in their names. The agency blamed it on a group of agents in Cincinnati, but Kookogey thinks the blame goes higher up the chain.

"When I reached this agent in Cincinnati December 30, 2011, I said ‘why is this taking so long?' He said we have been waiting for guidance from our superiors as to your organization and similar organizations and he implied that was not from Cincinnati. That was coming from some other place. We don't know where," said Kookogey.

The Associated Press said it has received an early release of a government watchdog's report saying the practice went on for 18 months before it was terminated.

The report from the Treasury Inspector General for tax administration blames ineffective management at the IRS.

Email: mbellinger@newschannel5.com
Facebook: Facebook.com/NC5_MarkBellinger
Twitter: Twitter.com/NC5_MBellinger

Powered by WorldNow
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 NewsChannel 5 (WTVF-TV) and WorldNow. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.