As IRS Scandal Endures, Kentucky Tea Party Activists Split on Mitch McConnell
As the scandal surrounding the targeting of tea party groups by the IRS continues, some Kentucky tea party activists are upset with Senator Mitch McConnell's role in the process—even as the state party is asking them to support him.
In Kentucky, only the statewide 9/12 project has come forward to acknowledge that they were targeted and that they were rejecting the IRS' apology on the matter.
But that hasn't stopped Kentucky politicians, including McConnell, from consistently pointing to the issue. He's demanded a full investigation into the matter.
The Republican Party of Kentucky is circulating a letter to back up McConnell on his efforts, asking tea party activists in Kentucky to sign it.
But Kentucky tea party activist David Adams called the attempts opportunistic.
"Not before—no, but after, they put on a full court press, which is kinda funny but mostly just offensive," Adams, who works with several Kentucky tea party groups, including Kentucky 9/12.
McConnell's office says they were contacted by Kentucky 9/12's leader, Eric Wilson about their IRS problems before the current news cycle and referenced the issues with the 9/12 group in a 2012 speech. McConnell also sent a letter to the IRS on the group's behalf in 2012, when they were targeted.
McConnell also received an endorsement from TheTeaParty.net today, according to Politico.
Adams says he was approached by Team Kentucky, part of the Republican Party of Kentucky, to sign the letter supporting McConnell in the IRS matter. Adams says he offered to sign on—but only if McConnell apologized for his support of the Patriot Act, bank bailout, raising the debt ceiling and other issues.
Adams has been actively recruiting a challenger to McConnell for his 2014 re-election. He says no other prominent tea party groups have signed the letter to his knowledge.
The draft letter circulated among tea party groups shows that at least two groups have signed the letter in support of McConnell—The Barren County Patriots and the Grassroots Boone County Tea Party. Two other national groups, including the Campaign for Liberty, have signed the letter, as well as more than 30 individuals involved with said groups.
Adams says elected officials should focus more on campaign finance reforms regarding donations and not on "photo opps" with tea party groups.
Other Republicans, including state party chairman Steve Robertson, have praised McConnell for his outspokenness on the matter.
“We commend Senator McConnell for calling upon the White House to conduct a transparent, government-wide review of the IRS and its practices, and we are proud to have such a strong advocate for First Amendment rights serving the commonwealth of Kentucky. Furthermore, we agree that a simple apology is not sufficient enough to remedy the issue, and it is quite troubling that his previous warnings regarding IRS practices were not taken seriously.”
Here's the text of the letter:
Dear Senator (Max) Baucus:
We were alarmed to discover that the Internal Revenue Service, by their own admission, engaged in unfair targeting of TEA Party groups and other conservative leaning grassroots organizations. As Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee charged with oversight of the IRS, we are demanding an investigation in to this matter.
Americans of all persuasions agree that the openness and freedom of our political process is one of the key qualities that make America exceptional. When this openness is threatened by government abuse, citizens of good conscience must stand up and say, “No.”
As a leading advocate for free speech protections, Senator Mitch McConnell has already called for a full investigation of these and other potential violations. We join the Republican leader in his call for an immediate and thorough investigation.
Americans need to be assured that citizens are not being unfairly targeted or harassed by government because of their political views. And, as the voice of the people, it is crucial that Congress take the lead in making this right.
We the undersigned call on you as Chairman of the Senate Financial Services Committee to mount a full investigation, including congressional hearings, on these disturbing practices of the IRS.
CC: Senator Hatch