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Tea Party to FEC: Treat Us Like a Socialist Group

Image: Tea Party to FEC: Treat Us Like a Socialist Group Demonstrators protest the IRS targeting of tea party and similar groups during a rally outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington on June 19.

By Courtney Coren   |   Thursday, 19 Sep 2013 10:14 AM

A national tea party group is asking the Federal Election Commission to allow it to keep donor information private, which is the same exemption currently given to the Socialist Workers Party.

The Tea Party Leadership Fund sent a request Monday to the FEC asking that the group be exempted from reporting and disclosing the names and addresses of those who contribute to the group. In the request, the group noted that same exemption has been granted to the Socialist Workers Party for similar reasons involving harassment and threats, Politico reported.

Read It: Tea Party Leadership Fund Letter to the FEC

In the letter, attorney Dan Backer cited the singling out of tea party groups by the Internal Revenue Service, as well as what he described as harassment and threats from governmental officials and the media, as part of its case as to why the Tea Party Leadership Fund should not have to disclose its contributors or members.

“Nobody likes the communists and really for good reason,” Backer told Politico. But he said the same legal principle that gives the Socialist Worker Party and other left wing groups the right to hide their donors should also be extended to tea party groups.

"As we very thoroughly document at almost three times the length of the socialist request, tea party supporters are subject to an unprecedented level of harassment and abuse," Backer wrote in the request, referring to 1,438-page appendix attached detailing his evidence, including comments from President Barack Obama, members of Congress, and others.

"The extensive harassment has had an inevitable result. Just as SWP supporters feared that associating with the SWP would lead to government harassment, so individuals, concerned with government reprisal, now fear associating with the TEA Party."

Backer added that some "contributors or would-be contributors" had raised fear about supporting the leadership fund because of potential "governmental retribution."

Politico reported that the request poses a problem for the FEC. If it grants the tea party group's request it could lead to other groups asking for the same exemption.

The FEC first granted a special exemption to the Socialist Workers Party in 1990. It was renewed again in 2013, according to Politico. Similar exemptions have also been granted by federal courts to the Communist Party, Socialist Action, and the Freedom Socialist Party.

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