After news broke this week that the Internal Revenue Service targeted tea party groups, including one in Waco, Republican Party organizers in the Killeen-Fort Hood area are demanding change in Washington.

Ed Thompson, chairman of the Republican Party of Coryell County, was one of many party organizers flabbergasted about the findings.

“I believe that that was a systematic delay on the part of the IRS for no other reason than that these were Republican organizations,” Thompson said. “The people involved need to be prosecuted.”

Thompson said the findings show a violation of fundamental political rights, by treating one group differently from another.

“It goes at the heart of our freedoms,” Thompson said.

Waco Tea Party President Toby Marie Walker said Tuesday her organization — one of about 75 tea party groups nationwide that were subjected to the audits, according to the IRS — received an IRS questionnaire in February seeking the identities of members, donors and personal ties with political candidates, Walker said.

The IRS practices did not affect the Central Texas Tea Party in Belton, President Judy Brady said. It also did not directly affect the Tea Party Conservatives in Temple, which has yet to apply for tax-exempt status, chapter leader Elwood Smith said.

The Associated Press reported that the Obama administration denied any link between the IRS scandal and Washington; however, many GOP party organizers are not convinced.

Michael DeHart, a Killeen conservative, compared the IRS scandal to misconduct of the presidential administrations of Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, when presidents came out to apologize after the fact.

“If this hadn’t come out, they’d still be doing it,” DeHart said. “Are they sorry or are they sorry they got caught?”

To make matters worse, for DeHart, on Tuesday Attorney General Eric Holder defended a secret probe by the Justice Department into phone records of the Associated Press.

Federal officials said they were trying to identify the sources who disclosed details of a counterterrorism operation in Yemen used in an AP report.

DeHart said the AP phone probe is another example of the Obama administration’s overextending the power of government.

“If they wanted to find the link, why didn’t they bug their own phones?” DeHart said.

Geoff West of FME News Service contributed to this report.

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