Representative Bill Flores, a Texas Republican, tells National Review Online that he thinks the Internal Revenue Service may be targeting him.
And he says his work as a whistleblower may be why.
Last year, Flores was contacted by the Waco Tea Party, which is located in his district, about trouble with their application for 501(c)(4) status. Flores took up their cause, and became one of the first members of Congress to question the IRS’s conduct.
A few months later, Flores received a notification from the IRS requesting additional documents regarding his tax returns.
“Was it just an independent review of my return or was it because I was asking them questions about their activities for tax-exempt organizations?” Flores asks. “I don’t know, but once the trust is broken, you know, you lose confidence.”
Flores says his accountant sent in the requested information within the time frame allotted by the IRS, but he hasn’t heard from them since, even though the agency is required by law to respond to his submission.
“Americans have lost confidence in the federal government because of activities like this,” Flores tells me. “They still haven’t cleared my name.”
Once he’d found out about the Waco group’s 501(c)(4) process, Flores became a champion behind the scenes for them. “When the Waco Tea Party sent me the request for information that the IRS had sent to them, I could not believe what I was reading, because it appeared to me to be a witch hunt,” he recalls.
After reviewing the Waco Tea Party’s IRS documents, Flores promptly started a correspondence with then-IRS commissioner Doug Shulman in March 2012, but he didn’t get a response. “I felt like they dissed me,” he says.
Frustrated with the agency’s silence, Flores corralled 62 of his colleagues into co-signing a second letter questioning the perceived politicization of the IRS. They mailed that letter on April 23, 2012, and got a response on June 15 from acting director Steven Miller, whose resignation was announced by President Obama on Wednesday night, saying that the treatment of the groups was “per normal procedures.”
Flores didn’t buy it then or now. “We asked specific questions about the targeting of conservative groups,” he says, “and instead what we got back was a pedantic explanation of how the process works for tax-exempt organizations, and got no detailed response as to our questions . . . I felt like they just flipped me the finger on it.”
But that exchange, he says, may have been only the start of his IRS problems.