WINDERMERE, Fla. - A Central Florida Tea Party group believes it was among several conservative organizations directly targeted by the Internal Revenue Service.
Prominent activist Jason Hoyt told Local 6 he is convinced the group was targeted in July 2012 after filing an application to become what he calls an issues advocacy group.
The group received a letter asking it to answer several questions and take appropriate steps to be approved, which isn't uncommon.
"I understand some questions, but these questions were way overboard," said Hoyt.
Among several concerns for Hoyt, the IRS letter requested that the group provide meeting minutes to explain why he was chosen to be the groups executive director.
"At that point, I did feel that I was being targeted and profiled based on my involvement in the Tea Party group and other conservative groups," said Hoyt.
The group was also given printed copies of two websites and asked to explain the details of the sites, even if those sites weren't related to the group.
One website was in development and hadn't been made pubic and the other was part of a radio show Hoyt use to take part in.
"They printed it and said, if this isn't yours, prove it" says Hoyt. "For them to have the power to single out organizations based on their ideology should scare everyone."
Just days after the group received the July 27 letter, Hoyt says one board member was audited.
Instead of complying with the request, Hoyt says the process was so daunting and expensive the group abandoned the project.
It wasn't until this week, when the IRS came under fire for similar complaints around that country, that Hoyt says he realized his case was part of a bigger issue.
The group has given the letter and other information to Republican Congressman Daniel Webster, who's office released the following statement Thursday regarding Hoyt's case, among others:
"The alarming admission that the IRS wrongly targeted and intimidated innocent taxpayers, including Central Floridians, based simply on what those Americans believe is a shameful breach of public confidence from an agency entrusted with Americans' sensitive tax records."
Due to the ongoing audit of one member of the group, other members wish to remain anonymous.
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