The news that Internal Revenue Service employees singled out conservative Tea Party groups for intense— and sometimes inappropriate— scrutiny has gotten lots of national attention.
But it hardly surprised leaders of two such organizations in South Carolina who say they were among those receiving the extra scrutiny.
Both Laurens County Tea Party chair Diane Belsom and Myrtle Beach Tea Party chairman Joe Dugan say their groups still have not been approved or rejected for special nonprofit status, even though they submitted their filing paperwork in 2010. Both say the IRS followed up with intrusive questions, including lists of members, donors, volunteers, and positions on political issues.
The problems stemmed from the organizations filing for special 501(c) 4 status as “social welfare” groups. That designates them as nonprofits which are granted special tax privileges. In exchange, the groups are not allowed to do significant amounts of electioneering on behalf of political candidates. But IRS officials at some point began to question whether some of those C4 groups were improperly getting involved in campaigns.