Some Ohio conservatives who say they were targeted by the Internal Revenue Service are heading to Washington as federal investigations widen into the agency’s handling of tax-exempt applications.
Several activists Wednesday described in interviews IRS treatment they suspect was politically motivated.
The Justice Department is opening a criminal probe into improper handling of applications for tax-exempt status that seemed to focus on conservative groups, and several congressional hearings are planned.
Tom Zawistowski, leader of the Portage County tea party, said he will take part today in a press conference called by Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and tea-party leaders. He said he and other Ohioans also plan to stay in Washington for a Friday House Ways and Means Committee hearing on IRS targeting.
“We want to have some people in the room that are part of this,” he said. “People who have a stake in this.”
Zawistowski is former president of the Ohio Liberty Coalition, an alliance of tea-party groups around the state. He said the IRS used delay tactics on the group’s request until granting it after last year’s elections. He said he and other activists had to spend time battling the IRS during the campaign season.
“On one hand, we feel vindication ... on the other side, we feel frustration,” he said of the investigations. “It should have happened last year.”
Former Cincinnati tea-party spokesman Justin Binik-Thomas also is going to Washington to sit in on the hearing.