Alabama AG considers action in IRS-tea party scandal

Jeff Poor
Media Reporter

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange is asking for any 501(c)(4) organizations in his state that believe they became a political target of the Internal Revenue Service to come forward and contact his office.

“This situation demands full accountability from the IRS and procedures to ensure that safeguards are put in place so that this type of egregious abuse of the public trust does not occur again,” Strange said in a release Tuesday afternoon. “It only makes sense for the President to appoint a special prosecutor to fairly and impartially investigate these troubling allegations to determine who directed these activities and if anyone in or associated with the White House knew of these activities and failed to stop them.”

Numerous tea party and conservative groups say they think they were targeted for audits and/or had their tax-exempt status slow walked by the IRS, a practice that the agency admitted to last Friday. Prior to Stange’s announcement, two Alabama-based tea party-affiliated groups had stepped forward to claim they were targeted.

In a follow-up interview, Strange said he wanted to work federal investigators to see if laws were broken.

“The more that comes out about this unfolding scandal – the fact that two Alabama groups are known to be targeted, it just occurred to me it could really be far-reaching in our state,” Strange said. “I don’t even know how many groups that are interested in good government here in Alabama, whether they’re related to the tea party or not. My goal is to find out.”

“I plan to get that information together, you know get it to hopefully what will be a special prosecutor, but if not, to the law enforcement authorities in D.C. and make sure we get to the bottom of it,” he added.

Strange also did not rule out the possibility of his office pursuing legal action against the federal government, while at the same time emphasizing his “coordination and cooperation” with federal law enforcement.

“The basic rule in law enforcement is coordination and cooperation between different law enforcement agencies,” he said. “So if laws have been broken, you know I would hope that whatever authority has jurisdiction would cooperate with us to help get to the bottom of it.”

Strange expressed his astonishment at the news of these tactics used by the IRS and said his state would be a good indication of how widespread it is in other areas.

“It’s one of the most frightening things I’ve encountered in my time in office,” he said. “You know, the awesome power of the federal government targeting people for their political beliefs is extraordinarily troubling. I’m going to be very interested to see how widespread it is. I think that’s something that will be helpful in whatever direction this goes in. If we got a significant number in Alabama, you can be sure that they’ll be a significant number in other states as well.”

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