Tea Party group might demand reimbursement from IRS for costly review

A leading Tea Party organization says it will consider demanding the IRS repay the group for expenses associated with answering the agency's "intrusive" questions, in the latest fallout from what the IRS now admits was an inappropriate campaign to scrutinize conservative groups.

Jenny Beth Martin, national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots, said her group and its affiliates were among those hassled by the IRS as they applied for tax-exempt status.

She said, among the questions asked by the IRS, were requests to see "every single post on Facebook" and "every comment that any person who's a fan of ours on Facebook had ever made."

Responding to the extensive inquiries cost money and took time, and Beth Martin said her organization is weighing how to get reimbursed.

"We're looking into that right now with our attorneys, because it's taken a lot of time, it cost a lot of money. And we've also had to help other groups around the country to do what we can to help them," she said. "A simple apology on a conference call is not enough by a long shot."

The Tea Party leader was referring to a Friday conference call where a senior IRS official apologized but said the targeting was not partisan in nature. Lois Lerner, who leads the division overseeing tax-exempt groups, said the effort was started by low-level workers.

But as the inspector general who oversees the IRS investigates, Republican lawmakers are calling for hearings and Tea Party leaders say they want to know more.

Beth Martin, in a written statement over the weekend, claimed "the IRS lied." She was referring to new documents that show senior officials knew of the additional scrutiny being applied as early as 2011.

Documents from the IG investigation also show the targeting went beyond looking at "Tea Party" and "patriot" groups. The criteria also included organizations focused on government spending, the Constitution and education on "ways to "make America a better place to live."

In a statement over the weekend, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said President Obama is "concerned that the conduct of a small number of Internal Revenue Service employees may have fallen short" of the administration's integrity standards.

"If the Inspector General finds that there were any rules broken or that conduct of government officials did not meet the standards required of them, the President expects that swift and appropriate steps will be taken to address any misconduct," he said.