CINCINNATI - The furor over the IRS's improper targeting of conservative groups went on full display in downtown Cincinnati on Tuesday.
More than 200 people turned out for a noon rally sponsored by local tea party groups, according to 9 On Your Side's Scott Wegener. Some carried signs that read "Audit the IRS," "Internal Revenge Service, Stop" and "Stop the Abuse of Power." Some chanted, "Hey, hey, ho, ho, the IRS has gotta go."
"I think we need to do something about the abuses of government," said Dennis Hogan of Maineville.
After gathering on Fountain Square, protesters marched two blocks to the IRS office at the federal building at 550 Main St. That where IRS workers improperly targeted conservative groups in their applications for tax-exempt status over the last few years, a Treasury Department inspector general's report states.
Lined up along the sidewalk, protesters chanted, "You work for us. You work for us," while Homeland Security officers stood nearby.
"It's ungodly, it's un-American and it's just plain wrong to target Americans because of what they say about the government," said Paul Johnson of the Grassroots tea party of Boone County.
"We want them to cease and desist harassing us conservatives," said Andrew Pappas of the Anderson tea party.
To that end, protesters signed a large placard and Ann Becker, president of the Cincinnati tea party, gave it to officers to deliver to the IRS.
"This isn't about party. It's about individual freedom," Becker said.
Becker has called for the immediate resignation of all involved in the targeting scandal.
"There shouldn't be a political attack based on our beliefs, and we believe that's what the IRS has done," Becker said.
"That it turned out to be going on in the Cincinnati office is fairly ironic considering the strong tea party presence in this area," said George Brunemann. "I'd say there's about 20,000 members in Hamilton, Butler, Warren and Clermont (counties)."
Brunemann said he and his wife were audited and his wife's business was audited after they started the SouthWest Cincinnati tea party. He doesn't believe the IRS officials who claim low-level Cincinnati IRS workers came up with the idea to target conservative groups.
"The IRS agent who told us we were being audited said it was directly because of our involvement with the tea party. She was almost apologetic," Brunemann said.
He said he knows a small business owner who was audited by the IRS and investigated by OSHA after joining.
"To me, that's what screams that this is not lower-lever IRS workers. This goes all the way up the food chain. The president might not be personally involved, but his people are," Brunemann said.
Some tea party groups are planning lawsuits in connection with the investigation.
Five present or former Cincinnati IRS workers were called to Washington to give transcribed interviews in advance of a House committee hearing on Wednesday.
The scandal has already led to at least three congressional hearings.
You can read the Treasury inspector general's report below or at http://goo.gl/o5mCN.
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