Feds Target Tea Party?

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By Crandall Sims

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO/CNN) -- "Regardless of your views of the Tea Party, if you're okay with this, then you are part of the problem," says Allen Olson, Founder and former Chairman of the Columbia Tea Party.

Olson says recent news that the IRS may have targeted conservative groups seeking 501c4 status, doesn't surprise him.

"No, it doesn't, not at all. The only thing I'm really shocked at is that Louise Lerner actually came out and admitted it and apologized," says Olson

This all comes after reports surfaced that an IRS audit, expected to be released this week, shows the agency put extra scrutiny to Tea Party organizations and other groups that are reportedly focused on government spending and the federal debt.

"From what I understand, they were not only targeting them and scrutinizing them, they were asking for who their donors are," says Olson.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill want a full investigation.

"The alleged actions of IRS employees in the Cincinnati field office would be a terrible breach of the public's trust," says Senator Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader.

The House is expected to hold hearings on the issue Friday.

The Tea Party, as a national group, is also speaking out.

"This is chilling. This is what happens in other countries when government agencies target and harass particular groups based on their ideology. That is deserving of so much more than just a mere apology," says Keli Carender National Coordinator, Tea Party Patriots.

Back here at home, Olson says for the Columbia chapter, approval took just weeks, but some state chapters have been trying for years.

"I personally know the Tea Party leader in Laurens County and I know she has had a problem with getting, ever since, she's tried for the almost three years now and she hasn't been able to get it registered yet," says Olson.

He also says, while he doesn't know if it's connected, he has noticed a change in his own personal tax filings.

"I don't recall ever being scrutinized by the IRS, prior to getting involved with the tea party and the last three years I've gotten statements being scrutinized by the IRS," says Olson

The IRS says they were just trying to deal with the large influx of new tax-exempt requests.

President Obama has vowed to hold the IRS accountable if the reports of political targeting are proven true.

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