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Utah conservative group claims they knew controversial IRS audits were coming

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – Controversy is brewing over the IRS admitting they targeted certain conservative groups. Many can’t believe it, but one Utah group who would've likely been a target said they actually saw this day coming.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – Controversy is brewing over the IRS admitting they targeted certain conservative groups. Many can’t believe it, but one Utah group who would've likely been a target said they actually saw this day coming.

Right now the IRS is taking a lot of heat. The IRS is admitting it targeted audits for conservative groups with the words "Tea Party" or "Patriot" in their names.

"Whether you're a liberal or conservative this ought to be a concern to you," said Senator Mike Lee, (R) Utah.

Monday ABC 4 Utah spoke on the phone with Utah Senator Mike Lee. He said this issue with the IRS, is damaging to American's rights to free speech.

"We ought to be able to exercise those rights without fear that we'll be subject to retribution as a result,” said Lee.

The controversial audits have made a dramatic affect on Utah's Tea Party. Dave Kirkham of Kirkham Motor Sports organized the Utah Tea Party back in 2009. Just months afterwards he and others believed the biased audits would be coming, and decided it would be in their best interest to not create a formal group.

"We had lots of discussions about fundraising, forming a 501(c)(4) and in the end we decided not to do it specifically because of the threat of an audit," said David Kirkham, Utah Tea Party Organizer.

Kirkham said President Obama gave a speech cited in a May 2009 Wall Street Journal article. In it the president is said to have joked about auditing Arizona State University for not giving him an honorary degree.

"President Crowe and the Board of Regents will soon learn all about being audited by the IRS," President Obama is quoted in the article.

Kirkham said that motivated the Utah Tea Party to stay under the radar.

"We weren't able to fundraise because of it and that was our conscience decision to not fund raise because of this, and so it limited you to just emails and just speaking about it," said Kirkham.

Kirkham said he doesn't think the Utah Tea Party has suffered because of fear of these audits. But when this is all said and done the IRS may be the one taking a hit. Utah Senators Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch are calling for a full scale investigation.

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