IRS demanded names of conservative college interns from 2008 election cycle

Leadership Institute intern class
Leadership Institute Intern Program
Photo Credit: Leadership Institute

Why in the world would the Internal Revenue Service want the names of college interns who worked for a top conservative activist group in election year 2008, and worse, ask where those interns were employed in election year 2012?

Were they making a target list? A watch list?

The Daily Caller reported the chilling news that during a 2011 audit of the Virginia-based, conservative activist training organization, Leadership Institute, the IRS demanded the names of its 2008 interns, “as well as specific information about their internship work and where the interns were employed in 2012.”

According to the article, the IRS sent a letter to the institute on Feb. 14, 2012 requesting:

Copies of applications for internships and summer programs; to include: lists of those selected for internships and students in 2008.

In regards to such internships, please provide information regarding where the interns physically worked and how the placement was arranged.

After completing internships and courses, where were the students and interns employed?

Leadership Institute vice president of programs David Fenner said that he “’absolutely’ believed the IRS audited information from 2008 because it was an election year.”

Other employees “speculated” the IRS wanted information on “how the group operates during a presidential election year,” The Daily Caller reported.

Well, kudos to the Leadership Institute who “declined” to give the names of its interns to the IRS.

“Those are the questions we declined to answer. It’s none of their business, and it’s not part of a legitimate audit,” Fenner told the paper, adding, “It has the feel of a watch list.”

The IRS audit determined no wrongdoing by the Leadership Institute; however, the organization spent $50,000 in legal fees defending itself during this little witch-hunt.

For a better understanding of perhaps why the IRS targeted or feared this particular conservative group, here is an excerpt from a 2011 BizPac Review article, “This is how we win,” on the outstanding training and activist work of the Leadership Institute:

The mission of the program is to identify, recruit, train and place “a generation of conservative leaders unwavering in their commitment to free enterprise, limited government, strong national defense and traditional values.” Because LI is a “do” tank, and not a “think” tank, the tools provided are practical and aimed at winning battles. In addition to classes, programs include what is widely known as “Washington’s best internship” and a full array of assistance in employment placement, through resources such as Conservativejobs.com, among others. Many politicians today are calling on the institute for help in staffing.

More from The Daily Caller.

Janeen Capizola

"And though she be but little, she is fierce." And fun! This conservative-minded political junkie, mom of three, dancer and one-time NFL cheerleader holds a bachelor of arts degree in political science. [email protected] Twitter: @JaneenBPR

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