Looks like the IRS wasn’t just targeting conservative groups applying for non-profit status. The tax-collecting agency also audited well-established conservative groups like the Leadership Institute between 2011 and 2012. And even though everything checked out, it ultimately cost the organization more than $50,000 in legal fees to comply with IRS requests for additional documentation. The agency was particularly interested in learning more about the group’s interns:
As part of the auditing process, the IRS asked the Leadership Institute for “copies of applications for internships and summer programs,” and a list of all interns and students selected in 2008. Additionally, the IRS sought “information regarding where the interns physically worked and how the placement was arranged,” and wanted to know where the interns and program attendees were employed afterwards. (LI has published the timeline of the investigation and the details on its website.)
It is not the only known instance of the IRS seeking information about conservative students. Kevin Kookogey, who founded a conservative mentoring program for high-school and college students in Tennessee, told National Review Online the IRS asked him to “identify the students I’m teaching and what I’m teaching them” as part of his application for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.