Tea party groups never wanted tax exemption in the first place [Letter]

In response to Larry Carson's letter ("Why should the tea party be tax-exempt?" July 2), let me make it clear to you as someone who was targeted by the Obama Administration through the IRS that No tea party group that I am aware of — and as past-president of the Ohio Liberty Coalition I am in touch with over 200 such groups — ever wanted tax exempt status. All we wanted was to incorporate so we could protect our officers from liability, buy insurance and open a checking account so that we could do "political" things like take a bus trip to Washington.

We were told that we had to be 501(c)4 organizations because taking a bus trip was determined to be a "political" act instead of free speech. This was shocking to us. We thought that we could be limited liability corporations, but the government would not allow us to organize as simple corporations. Once we were organized as 501(c)4 groups, we were told that we must apply for tax exempt status. None of us wanted that. We don't make any money. We are more than happy to pay any taxes that we owe. That is all we do is pay taxes for our businesses and from our personal income. The government would not let us organize as for profit corporations that paid taxes. So, your premise is completely false.

Furthermore, nobody, including the Koch brothers, calls any shots with tea party groups. That is a lie that you have bought that the liberal media and the left needs you to believe so they can defuse the threat that the tea party represents to their control over your life. We are totally independent groups and we act accordingly. If the Koch brothers are handing out checks, we sure haven't seen them in the past five years. You want to go after Karl Rove, be my guest. But the Obama administration went after common American citizens because they were threatened by what we did in 2010 and would do anything, including breaking the law, to keep us from doing the same in the 2012 election.

Finally, the other lie that you have bought is that the IRS scrutinized liberal groups as well. That has been totally debunked by the House investigations. Only a handful of liberal groups ever got the same letters that we got, and once they were identified as being liberal groups they were quickly granted tax exempt status while hundreds of conservative groups waited years to get any ruling on their status. Thank you for this opportunity to enlighten readers with a first hand perspective of what actually happened.

Tom Zawistowski, Mogadore, Ohio

The writer is executive director of the Portage County TEA Party.

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