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Not ‘The Onion’: IRS official claims agency used term ‘Tea Party’ to describe many groups, even liberal ones

By Doug Powers  •  June 17, 2013 10:43 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

Have you ever been talking about an activist liberal and referred to him or her as “a Reagan” just because it was shorthand to describe a political person? Me neither, but one IRS official is trying to say such a slapstick labeling culture exists at the IRS:

When front-line tax agents in Cincinnati used the term “tea party,” they didn’t just mean conservative groups. Instead, a “tea party” case could refer to an application for tax-exemption from any group – including liberal ones – believed to be engaging in political activity, one IRS official told congressional investigators.

“Since the first case that came up to Washington happened to have that name, it appeared to me that that’s what they were calling it that as a shorthand, because the first case had been that,” said Holly Paz, the Internal Revenue Service’s director of rulings and agreements. She said “tea party” could mean any political group, just like “Coke” is often used as a generic term for soda, or people refer to tissues as “Kleenex.”
Paz, the highest-ranking IRS official with knowledge of the targeting to cooperate thus far with the congressional investigation, spoke to Rep. Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and to bipartisan committee staffers on May 21. USA Today reviewed all 222 pages of her interview’s transcript.

So Paz expects us to believe that when the IRS received a 501(c)(4) request form from, say, Organizing for Action, that they handed it to a fellow employee and said “here’s another tea party application”? I’ll believe that if she can produce evidence that the agency referred to the Koch brothers as “Occupy Wall Street.”

It seems like only yesterday the Tea Party was dismissed as a few fringe wacko right wing extremists, and now the movement is a proprietary eponym? Amazing what one scandal CYA can do to elevate a brand.

**Written by Doug Powers

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