Tea party groups ‘roaring back to life’ from IRS crackdown

There are always second acts in American political lives.

While the controversy over the Internal Revenue Service’s harassment of conservative groups that started in 2010 has dropped out of the mainstream media recently, a front-page article in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal is a reminder of how much the IRS assault on the democratic process hurt the tea party movement (enough to swing the 2012 election maybe).

jennybethmartinAnd how much its revelation has helped the tea party bounce back.

The article is pegged on Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots, who rose to such prominence on the tea party’s success in electing a Republican House of Representatives in 2010 that Time magazine named her among the “100 Most Influential People in the World.”

The tea party as a movement and the Tea Party Patriots in particular, was an established force in American politics. (Martin is on a first-name basis with tea-party lawmakers like Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas.) But it had a problem:

“The Patriots didn’t have tax-exempt status, a disincentive to some potential donors,” the Journal reported. “The group had applied for such status in late 2010 but says it had heard nothing from the IRS during all of 2011.”

That hurt its fundraising, which in turn hurt its activism. And the Tea Party Patriots weren’t the only ones. Other tea party groups were getting the same treatment. “It was harassment, pure and simple, to weaken us going into the 2012 election,” Martin told the Journal.

“I kept telling everyone — including the big donors who wouldn’t give to us without our nonprofit status — that the IRS appeared to be targeting tea-party groups,” Martin said. “But no one believed us.”

And it worked. Smaller groups ended up dropping out of the battle, which appeared to be the strategy.

And Barack Obama was re-elected president of the United States.

In winter of 2012, the tea party seemed like a spent force to many, including top Republican strategists. But then the scandal broke in May, with the revelation that the IRS had deliberately targeted conservative groups in the years between 2010 and 2012.

“From that moment, the tea party has roared back to life,” Martin told the Journal. “It’s been nonstop interest from the media, politicians and our grass roots.”

That might not be good news for everyone in the Republican Party.

There are battles ahead on immigration, foreign policy, and how best to fight Obamacare; primaries that will be won or lost. But debating about issues, fighting over ideas is what health political parties do.

The tea party’s new strength is definitely bad news for Democrats.



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Joe Saunders

Joe Saunders, a 25-year newspaper veteran, is a staff writer and editor for BizPac Review who lives in Tallahassee and covers capital and Florida politics. Email Joe at [email protected].


8 thoughts on “Tea party groups ‘roaring back to life’ from IRS crackdown

  1. Jessica Hawke says:

    The Tea Party isn’t going anywhere.

  2. bclomptwihm says:

    If anyone thinks that the IRS and the Central government will now stop using the government’s power against The Tea Party they are dreaming. The Tea Party of today is like the Jews in 1930’s Germany and will suffer a similar fate.

  3. DilloTank says:

    There should be away to force the IRS to rule, so that ruling can be challenged in court.

  4. Jim Ward says:

    This is actually good news for the Democrats as the Tea Party is clear evidence of the divisive civil war within the Republican Party. Tea Party candidates knock off establishment Republicans and then usually go on to lose to Democrats in the general elections. At their peak in 2010, Tea Party candidates won where, in a midterm election and as the party out of power, establishment Republicans would have otherwise won. And clearly, the Tea Party was responsible for the Republicans failing to take back the Senate. In 2012, they pushed Romney further to the right and out of the mainstream for many Americans, helping to re-elect President Obama. There certainly was and is no motive for the Democrats to try and get in the way of the Republican Party implosion.

    The only “scandal” here is that Congressional Republicans pressured the IRS to push through the approval of Tea Party groups — partisan, political parties — as tax-exempt, charitable social welfare organizations. We now know that Issa pressured the Republican-appointed Inspector General to only look at the treatment of conservative groups in order to try and concoct a phony Nixonian scandal. Nevertheless, the IG report confirmed that the White House was not involved and that there was no political motivation for the heightened scrutiny of these groups.

    Tea Party groups should properly be categorized as PACs or 527s. Tea Party groups don’t want to do this the right way because they would then be required — like the Republican Party and the Democratic Party — to reveal their donors. Tea Party groups don’t want to reveal their donors because it would confirm what we already know: The Tea Party groups are not really grassroots groups but are in fact “Astro Turf” organizations funded by the likes of the Koch brothers and other corporate interests to push their agenda of dodging corporate taxation and accountability.

    Hopefully this latest news is an indication that the IRS is getting back to doing their job and subjecting these groups to the scrutiny they deserve. The questions the IRS is asking will determine if the political activity of the Tea Party organizations exceeded the allowable limits on charitable social welfare organizations. If this proves to be the case, the tax-exempt status of these political parties should properly be denied or revoked.

    1. Brandon Johns says:

      You are wrong. You just don’t want to admit it so you keep on with these absurd MSNBC, far left fed lies. Unfortunately for you the Tea Party is still going strong while your Occupy Wall Street is DEAD. That is what you are really mad about. Occupy Wall Street never named their donors either(even though we know it was billionaire commie George Soros). Obama got re-elected by massive voter fraud, not the American people. Obama is so far left of the mainstream that he can never find his way back.

      1. Jim Ward says:

        All this big talk about “lies” but nobody here seems willing or able to spell out even one alleged “lie.” 

        Do some research: The Tea Party and Occupy are apples and oranges. Occupy did not and does not run, finance or endorse candidates.  The Tea Party, as both its name and activities indicate,  is a political party  that ran candidates, financed candidates,  coordinated activities with candidates and the like. They are clearly not charitable social welfare organizations and should properly be incorporated as PACs or 527s. 

        President Obama soundly defeated Mitt Romney 332-206 electoral votes and by a popular vote margin of 50.9-47.4 percent. Read about the myth of voter fraud: 


        And check out Bruce Bartlett — Ronald Reagan’s economic advisor — who correctly points out that President Obama is a moderate conservative:  

        1. Brandon Johns says:

          Defeating someone by 50.9%-47.4% is NOT soundly defeating someone. That is really not all that much bigger than what Bush beat Kerry by in 2004. Not to mention Obama won by over 5 million less in votes than he won in 2008. Romney increased his vote share over McCain’s score and this was the first time in history that both candidates got over 60 million votes. Obama’s electoral college score also shrank. Who was the last president who won a second term to do that?? NO ONE! Most winning presidential second term incumbents win by bigger margins than they won previously. You want landslides then look at 1984, 1972, 1964, 1956, 1952, 1936.

          Obama is no moderate either. That is reflected in his work.

          Occupy is financed. It is financed by Obama’s puppetmaster George Soros.

        2. Brandon Johns says:

          BTW, your voter fraud accusations against Republicans have never been proven either.

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