Amherst, VA - This IRS scandal is not just confined to the Beltway. This mess has had an impact on Tea Party groups across Virginia, including Lynchburg's.
One Lynchburg Tea Party member says this is "horrendous." Statewide, the Tea Party Federation is accusing the IRS of violating the 1st, 4th and 14th Amendments to our Constitution.
Vance Wilkins spent two decades in the House of Delegates. Now, he's treasurer of the Lynchburg Tea Party. To put it mildly, he's unhappy with the IRS.
"This is a matter of your freedoms being harassed by government by the power of government," said Wilkins.
Tea Party members say they started seeing the IRS scrutinizing their organization a couple years ago. Now, the FBI has launched a criminal investigation over possible civil rights abuses.
"To specifically be harassed by the federal government because of your political beliefs that's the same thing they do in Russia," said Wilkins.
"It's not inappropriate. It's actually illegal," said Jim Fowler, president of the Lynchburg Tea Party.
Fowler's organization is not a 501 c4 just yet. But they are applying for that nonprofit status right now. Unfortunately, this scandal has them filling out more paperwork than ever, from submitting a detailed budget to meeting minutes.
Tea Partiers say the IRS targeted their conservative politics.
"Our frustration is we don't see any situations where those who lean to the left, liberal viewpoints, are subjected to this kind of scrutiny at this point in time," said Fowler.
The IRS stands by its legal duty: Double-checking that c4s like the Tea Party are not dabbling too much in politics. But Tea Partiers want the IRS to learn a lesson.
The Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation has its own idea of what justice should be in this case. They say Tea Party groups targeted should get reimbursed for the extra time and expense required to answer the IRS's demands.