Members of the Waco Tea Party say they are among the conservative groups that were unfairly targeted by the IRS.
Located along the banks of the Brazos River, Waco with its strong conservative base was an easy place to organize a Tea Party group. Michael Simon got the ball rolling in 2009. Since then the Waco Tea Party has grown from a handful of members to several thousand. What wasn't easy, says Simon, was getting a 501( c ) 4 non-profit status from the IRS.
"I think outrage surpassed a long time ago, now it's you have a bitter taste in your mouth over it," said Simon.
It all began when this letter arrived in 2012. The IRS wanted more information about the organization. The request, with a warning about being untruthful, made it clear for the local Tea Party faithful the simple application process was about to become very difficult.
"Almost immediately, when you start reading these requests, you're looking at it like, this isn't right," said Simon.
The IRS 20 item to do list appears to range from the quizzical to intrusive to ridiculous. They wanted radio interview transcripts, articles, social media postings, a list of donors, volunteers, and board members as well as if any of them had political aspirations or had relationships with candidates. According to Simon, this fight was more than a distraction. He suspects it was intended to suppress participation in the political process.
"It really did silence and it was intimidating to be receiving, this was one of several letters we received," said Simon.
After a two year battle the Waco Tea Party received one last letter in March, a notification its tax status was finally granted.
According to a spokesperson with a law firm that's representing Tea Party organizations across the nation, they know of four groups in Texas targeted by the IRS. Along with Waco, they include San Antonio, Allen, and Tarrant County."
President Obama joined a bi-partisan outcry earlier this week for more than an apology.
"If you've got the IRS operating in anything less than a neutral and nonpartisan way, then that is outrageous, it is contrary to our traditions and people have to be held accountable and it's gotta be fixed," said the President.
Internal IRS documents indicate the targeting of conservative groups may have started in 2010. Organizations were flagged for extra scrutiny if they had names that included words like Tea Party, patriot, we the people, take back the country as well as 9/12 which is associated with Glen Beck. With the how established Tea Party leaders want to know why.
"I want to see a full investigation, I want to see Congress act I want to see an independent investigation I want to find out exactly what's going on."
Until that happens the Waco group has posted its own request to the IRS for an individual apology.