A northern Illinois Democrat has joined the chorus of lawmakers demanding an independent investigation of the IRS. The agency has come under fire after acknowledging it targeted conservative groups. The Justice Department says it is looking into the matter. But 17th District Congresswoman Cheri Bustos says an independent probe is needed to avoid political gamesmanship.
Meanwhile, the situation has not affected most Tea Party groups in northern Illinois.
The IRS says the singling out of conservative groups was limited to an office in Cincinnati. But the Associated Press says the activity could be more widespread.
However, in northern Illinois, a survey of several Tea Party spin offs did not reveal any such scrutiny. That’s because they have not applied for tax-exempt status. These groups can try to seek that status if they claim what they’re doing is social welfare, and is not politically focused.
David Hale heads the Rockford Tea Party. He says based on what he had heard from other organizations across the country, he was always leery about making such decisions for his group.
"I believe it would cause us to be handed tactics from this administration" Hale said.
It is worth noting that in the past, the Rockford Tea Party has endorsed political candidates, a move that would hamper an application.
Other Tea Party groups in the region say they’re simply too small, and that it wouldn't be worth the effort to apply.
Judy PettiJohn is with the branch that covers St. Charles, Geneva and Batavia. She says they engage in very limited organized activity.
"We don't hold regular meetings. We only hold an event from time to time" Pettijohn said.
Meanwhile, Pettijohn says the Tea Party movement is still trying to shed the image that it’s a group of “old white men” with extreme views. She says it consists of a diverse band of people seeking smaller government.
11th District Congressman Bill Foster has also issued a statement related to the IRS controversy:
“No one in the United States should be unjustly targeted because of personal, religious or political beliefs. Reports that the Internal Revenue Service has unfairly targeted conservative organizations should be thoroughly investigated and any responsible parties should be held accountable.
“This kind of behavior is unacceptable. As we investigate the full extent of these inappropriate activities, we must also work to ensure this kind of unjust targeting never happens again.”