Conservative groups protest at Tampa IRS building

05/21/13 Roberto Roldan
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As part of a series of nationwide protests, over one hundred concerned citizens lined the east and westbound lanes of Columbus Drive, outside of the Tampa IRS building this afternoon. Local conservative organizations stood with signs and megaphones calling on the federal government to hold the IRS accountable.

Members from Tampa Bay area Tea Party and 9-12 groups held signs and flags to speak out against extra scrutiny that the IRS has given to conservative groups. Sharon Calvert, co-founder of the Tampa Tea Party, hoped to spread awareness of what she called the IRS’s “egregious activities.”

“This is a nationwide rally across the country for Tea Party, conservative, patriot organizations to stand together and bring to the forefront that we will not stand for the activities that the IRS – what we have seen, that has been reported on – occur. And we also know that organizations, including one of our partner organizations here locally, actually did get targeted by the IRS.”

The group Calvert is referring to is a local conservative advocacy group called Tampa 9-12. According to the groups chair, Tim Curtis, they originally filed their 501(c)(4) in February of 2010. In August, the group was asked by the IRS to submit what Cutis called “intruding questions” about their organization. It wasn’t until January of 2011 that the IRS finally approved Tampa 9-12's tax-exempt status.

“But certainly in retrospect we were wondering why they were asking us what courses are we teaching, what research material were we using to teach the courses, and I’ll tell you further, I wonder if they weren’t, at that point, having someone come and sit in on some of our meetings. Which, oh by the way, would have been wonderful for me because maybe they could have learned a little bit about our constitution.”

While some protesters waved American flags and held up signs that read “Fire Obama”, Tampa resident Henry McKay dressed in a revolutionary-era outfit and spoke to others about his own experiences being on the receiving end of an IRS audit that he believes was unfounded. McKay says the solution to the IRS scandal is to enforce constitutional limits on the federal government.

“Well obviously, the hearing that’s have come out here recently where they’ve targeted people – that’s power gone amuck. They’re not bound by the constitution; they’re bound by political will, basically. And that we have to reign in this federal mafia, in a sense. So that’s my function here today along with all these other people is just to say ‘IRS you’re out of the box. Get back in the box! Start following the rules! Start following the constitution, will ya?!’”

Meanwhile, in Washington, Douglas Shulman, former chief of the IRS, told a Senate Finance Committee today that he had no knowledge of the targeting that occurred while he was in charge and that the issue should have been brought “up the chain” to him.

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