DENVER - At least two Colorado tea party groups believe they were caught up in a politically targeted campaign by the Internal Revenue Service to make it hard for them to get tax exemptions.
The Western Slope Conservative Alliance and the Colorado Tea Party Patriots applied for nonprofit status in 2010. After more than two years both groups have not received official permission to operate under the tax code.
"I think this kind of experience should scare everybody," said Kevin McCarney, president of the Western Slope Conservative Alliance.
McCarney said the group gave up on the process and decided to start over and try to apply again with a new name, 'Freedom Colorado!'
Colorado Tea Party Patriots President Regina Thomson also talked to 7NEWS about the delay.
"There was no communication from the IRS for another 22 months (after our application was submitted)," Thomson told 7NEWS. "We’re trying to get our application reinstated due to their (the IRS) malfunction."
"We were targeted as part of the wider, you know, slowdown and harassment of the Tea Party 912 organizations, simply by the time that it took, if nothing else," added Thomson.
The U.S. Treasury Department's Inspector General has issued a report that found that for more than 18 months, the IRS specifically targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax exempt status. The report blamed ineffective IRS management for allowing the practice.
The IRS has launched a criminal investigation. The Justice Department has ordered the FBI to conduct its own investigation.
President Barack Obama says the report shows intolerable and inexcusable behavior by the Internal Revenue Service.
Obama says he's asked Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to hold accountable those responsible and to ensure it never happens again. The acting IRS Commissioner has resigned, Obama announced at a Wednesday afternoon White House news conference.
The IRS apologized for the practice last week.