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Leaders of conservative groups talk of IRS abuse

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Posted: Tuesday, June 4, 2013 2:32 pm | Updated: 10:39 am, Wed Aug 21, 2013.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Leaders of tea party and other conservative groups have been telling a House panel today about what they say has been years of abuse by the Internal Revenue Service.

They say that when they applied for tax-exempt status, the IRS responded by asking them inappropriate questions. The leader of an anti-abortion group says the agency asked about the content of their prayers. The head of a group that opposes same-sex marriage says the IRS publicly disclosed confidential information about its donors -- which he saw as an attempt to keep them from donating again.

Democrats on the panel joined Republicans in criticizing IRS behavior, and voicing sympathy for how the groups were treated. But some Democrats also noted that the IRS is responsible for seeing if organizations qualify for tax-exempt status, and that it can't approve requests from groups that primarily engage in election campaigns. And Democrat Jim McDermott of Washington state told them, "None of you were kept from organizing." He says, "We're talking about whether or not American taxpayers will subsidize your work."

Today's testimony marked the first time the groups complaining about IRS treatment since the agency revealed the targeting of conservative groups -- and apologized for it -- last month.

Some said their applications for tax-exempt status took three years to be approved -- and some said they are still waiting.

%@AP Links

183-a-10-(Becky Gerritson, Wetumpka tea party, testifying before House Ways and Means Committee)-"might do next"-Becky Gerritson of the Wetumpka tea party says she worries about the direction the country is taking. (4 Jun 2013)

<<CUT *183 (06/04/13)>> 00:10 "might do next"

180-w-31-(Jerry Bodlander, AP correspondent, with Kevin Kookogey, founder and president, Linchpins of Liberty, John Eastman, chairman, National Organizxation for Marriage, Diane Belsom, Laurens County tea party and Becky Gerritson, Wetumpka tea party)--Conservative groups have detailed for lawmakers the undue targeting they were subjected to by the IRS. AP correspondent Jerry Bodlander reports. (4 Jun 2013)

<<CUT *180 (06/04/13)>> 00:31

167-a-11-(Diane Belsom, Laurens County tea party, testifying before House Ways and Means Committee)-"of conservative groups"-Diane Belsom of the Laurens County tea party says her group still hasn't gotten an answer about its application. (4 Jun 2013)

<<CUT *167 (06/04/13)>> 00:11 "of conservative groups"

APPHOTO DCJM117: Diane Belsom, with the Laurens County, S.C. Tea Party, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 4, 2013, before the House Ways and Means Committee hearing of organizations that say they were unfairly targeted by the Internal Revenue Service while seeking tax-exempt status. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) (4 Jun 2013)

<<APPHOTO DCJM117 (06/04/13)>>

APPHOTO DCJM115: John Eastman, chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 4, 2013, before the House Ways and Means Committee hearing of organizations that say they were unfairly targeted by the Internal Revenue Service while seeking tax-exempt status. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) (4 Jun 2013)

<<APPHOTO DCJM115 (06/04/13)>>

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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