A Press Release from the Lane 912 group of Oregon.
Recently, Tea Party and other conservative groups have registered complaints nationwide that the Obama administration is using the IRS to attack citizens whose political or social views vary from that of the administration. The list of grieving parties now includes a local group – the 912 Lane Project. The experience shared by all of these organizations has been the bureaucratic gauntlet they have been forced to run to obtain tax exempt status. Tea Party groups report having to send in thousands of pages of highly intrusive documentation on their membership and their donors, transcripts of every presentation by guest speakers, discussions by members at meetings, even verbatim transcripts of invocations or prayers that might have been spoken at meetings and events. Most groups say they have tried to comply with these bizarre and sometimes frightening IRS requirements, but are still awaiting approval two or three years later.
The experience of 912 Lane is typical, judging from reports nationwide. The group submitted all the required forms and documentation, paid fees, and followed up with polite telephone inquiries to an ever changing stream of IRS representatives. 912 Lane has been running this, now infamous, gauntlet without a hint of positive results for almost four years. One IRS worker told the group that the application would be denied because the organization had failed to submit one set of documents. 912 Lane responded that they sent the documents via registered mail and would be happy to forward a copy of the signed receipt from IRS. The IRS representative told them to wait a short while for the problem to be resolved. The organization is still waiting, 6 months later.
912 Lane is non-partisan and provides no support to any political candidate. The group has held candidate forums with speakers representing all major parties and widely divergent political and social views. The group reports that the stifling of donations from members may be the least harmful impact IRS has had upon them. Of more concern is the chilling effect the IRS’ data gathering is having upon free political discourse in small communities like Eugene. Some members are reluctant to step up to leadership positions when they realize that they will be required to have their resume submitted to the IRS and may be subjected to special scrutiny or even harassment from the IRS from their mere association with the 912 Lane group. The organization’s members typically react with shock to discover that a government agency like the IRS could somehow feel the need to know the content of their prayers.
Those who join 912 Lane are students of the US Constitution and proponents of limited, fiscally responsible government. It is especially ironic to the 912 Lane membership that the most important dicta of the US Constitution, its’ guarantees of freedom of speech and assembly, should be so blatantly denied to its most ardent defenders. In spite of the cavalier treatment afforded 912 Lane by IRS, the group continues to be dedicated to preserving the free speech rights of all our citizens, including those with whom they disagree.
I spoke to around 200 912 and Tea Party groups in 2011/12.
I heard countless stories like this.