The Nixonian scandal consuming the nation’s capitol has come to Colorado, with news that a conservative organization based here was targeted by the IRS and had its private information leaked to a liberal online news site.
Colorado’s Citizen Awareness Project, founded by Charlie Smith, says the IRS admitted it released its confidential records. As an attorney whose areas of expertise include tax law, Smith would seem an unlikely target of an illegal IRS probe, which makes his story all the more compelling.
“This is about trusting government,” Smith said.
Last summer Smith launched the Citizen Awareness Project, a nonprofit advocating conservative policies, and applied for tax exempt status.
“Then in November I got a call from the IRS, from their tax-exempt organization’s division, telling me that, well admitting that an IRS employee had illegally disclosed our application to someone, but they refused to tell me who or when or why,” Smith said.
The IRS leaked the Citizen Awareness Project’s private application to ProPublica, a liberal online news site, which the website has readily admitted:
The IRS also sent ProPublica the applications of three small conservative groups that told the agency that they would spend some money on politics: Citizen Awareness Project, the YG Network and SecureAmericaNow.org. (No unapproved applications from liberal groups were sent to ProPublica.)
This blatant abuse of governmental power has riled up Colorado Congressman Cory Gardner, who has asked Coloradans to step forward who feel they were unfairly targeted by the IRS for political reasons:
WASHINGTON D.C. – Furious over revelations that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups seeking non-profit status, Congressman Cory Gardner (CO0-04) is demanding answers and offering to help affected groups in Colorado that were unfairly singled out.
In a letter to the IRS, Gardner demands to know how many Colorado groups were targeted and asks for assurance that all affected groups in Colorado be notified that they were targeted. He also asks for a detailed account of instances where information was unlawfully solicited from conservative groups and the current whereabouts of this information.
If you are a group that believes it was unfairly targeted by the IRS for politically motivated reasons, please call Congressman Gardner’s office for a confidential consultation 970-351-6007
The Citizen Awareness Project wasn’t the only Colorado-based organization seemingly targeted by the IRS, with reports that the Western Slope Conservative Alliance and the Colorado Tea Party Patriots also complaining about being the “target of unfair auditing tactics.”
Nor is this the first Colorado tie to the burgeoning national scandal. Yesterday, we reported that Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet sent a letter with six other Senate Democrats to the IRS in February 2012 demanding 501c4s be investigated, specifically citing only one conservative group in a press release touting the letter.
Watch the full CBS4 segment on the witch hunt of the Citizen Awareness Project here.