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Local man says his patriot group was IRS target

10:26 PM, May 15, 2013   |    comments
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GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- A leader of the Ottawa County Patriots believes his organization was flagged for special attention by the Internal Revenue Service, despite following all the rules and filing the proper forms.

Jim Chiodo says the tax agency refused to process his group's application for non-profit status, making it difficult to raise money and promote the organization's conservative views and values. Donations to the group would be tax deductible if it is classified as non-profit.

President Obama announced Wednesday that the acting commissioner of the IRS resigned Wednesday in the wake of an investigation that found the agency improperly targeted conservative groups.

"There are either individuals in government with an 'I'm not going to let these patriot people have a say,' or it came from the top," says Chiodo. "it's inexcusable. Americans have a right to be angry about it, and I'm angry about it."

Chiodo says he got the run-around every time he and others from the Ottawa County Patriots tried to talk to IRS representatives.

"We could never get through to anyone," he says. "If we did get through and leave a message, no one called us back. I cannot remember how many times, but it was quite a few times."

The patriot leader says some people have the wrong idea about his group.

"When you say 'tax exempt,' some people think, 'Well, why would a political organization like the tea party qualify?' The answer is, we are not a political organization. We are an educational organization."

Chiodo says his group -- and others like it -- are intended to inform voters about issues.

"We tell them what's really in Obama-care," he says. "The more informed a voter is, in my opinion, the less likely he is to vote Democrat or for Obama."

Chiodo flew to Washington, D.C., Wednesday to join other patriot and tea party group leaders for a rally outside the U.S. Capitol.

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