South Florida Tea Party says it was targeted by IRS

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- The chairman of the now-defunct South Florida Tea Party said his organization was one of the conservative political groups scrutinized by the Internal Revenue Service when it applied for tax-exempt status because of its name.

Everett Wilkinson, the chairman, suggested the organizations were targeted because of a culture of corruption and abuse in the agency.

"We were certainly appalled and shocked to the level and the extent of [it]," Wilkinson said.

Earlier this week, the IRS apologized for inappropriately flagging conservative political groups for additional reviews.

Groups with the words "Tea Party," "Patriot" or "9/12" were said to have been flagged.

On Thursday, President Obama called the actions "outrageous."

"It is just simply unacceptable for there to even be a hint of partisanship or ideology when it comes to the application of our tax laws," Obama said during a news conference at The White House.

Wilkinson said the IRS requested copies of South Florida Tea Party agendas, the resumes of board members, Web pages and other documents.

He said he abandoned his application for a tax-exempt status after months of requests.

"Initially, we just thought that is how it was handled. And then, you know, I talked to somebody else in a completely non-related field that was a non-profit and they thought it was highly unusual," Wilkinson said. "Most of the organizations that I work with on the Tea Party, you know, were all non-profit and nonpartisan. So, I really don't see that they should have been targeted the way they were."

Earlier this year, Wilkinson rebranded the organization the National Liberty Federation.

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