GOP candidate Ben Carson goes after Muslim advocacy group's tax status

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Republican Ben Carson has started a petition calling on the IRS to target the nation's largest Muslim advocacy group.

The retired neurosurgeon accused the Council on American-Islamic Relations on Thursday of violating its nonprofit tax status in a Facebook message. Carson said the organization "brazenly violated IRS rules" when it called last month for him to leave the 2016 presidential race.

"Under the Obama administration, the IRS has systematically targeted conservative nonprofit groups for politically motivated audits and harassment," Carson wrote. "The agency should now properly do its job and punish the real violators of America's laws and regulations."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations lashed out at Carson after he said he would not support a Muslim president.

Carson's fortunes were on the rise before he made the remark and continued to surge afterward. Campaign manager Barry Bennett said Carson raised roughly $700,000 in the 36 hours after he made the comment.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations denied any wrongdoing.

"We find it interesting that Dr. Carson seeks to use a federal government agency to silence his critics and wonder if that tactic would be used to suppress First Amendment freedoms should he become president," spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said.