Leader of targeted Tea Party group ‘pissed off’ by IRS’s questioning, calls it a ‘fishing expedition’

Rick Klein, Olivier Knox, Richard Coolidge, and Jordyn Phelps
Power Players
Leader of targeted Tea Party group ‘pissed off’ by IRS’s questioning, calls it a ‘fishing expedition’

Top Line

Susan McLaughlin knows first-hand what it’s like to be targeted by the IRS. Her Tea Party group in Liberty Township, Ohio was among those subjected to intense questioning after applying for tax-exempt status.

McLaughlin tells Top Line, “it just pisses you off” to be questioned by the IRS in such detail.

“It's intrusive; it is clearly a fishing expedition,” McLaughlin says.

McLaughlin reads aloud a question from a seven-page-long letter The Liberty Township Tea Party received from the IRS’s Cincinnati office. “’List each past and present board member, officer, key employee and members of their family,’ and then it says, ‘have they served on the board of another organization?’”

“Well, what does that mean?” McLaughlin asks of the IRS’s question.

McLaughlin’s Tea Party group happens to be in Speaker of the House John Boehner’s district. She says they did make the Speaker’s office aware of the questions they received IRS at the time—feeling they were “onerous and out of line”—but asked that no action be taken on their behalf.

Now, McLaughlin says, it’s time for action.

“This week, we're going to change. We're going to say, Speaker Boehner, we need help,” she says. “It's clear that our faith in the government was not well-founded; we put faith where it shouldn't have been, and that's sad.”

In addition to appealing to Speaker Boehner for help, McLaughlin says her group will be joining other targeted groups in a lawsuit against the IRS, and she urges all Americans to be concerned about what happened to these Tea Party organizations.

“If he can do that to me, he can do it to you,” says McLaughlin.

For more of the interview, and to hear why she says this experience harks back to the days of Richard Nixon, check out this episode of Top Line.

ABC's Eric Wray, Freda Kahen-Kashi, Paul Dougherty, and David Girard contributed to this episode.