Tea party members protest outside Portland IRS

5-21-13-irs protest
A group over conservatives met outside the IRS office on Portland's Southwest Main Street Tuesday, May 21, 2013 -- protesting the extra scrutiny given to conservative groups by the IRS. (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Local Tea Party members took to the streets of downtown Portland Tuesday to protest the Internal Revenue Service.

They met outside the IRS office on Portland’s Southwest Main Street, protesting the extra scrutiny given to conservative groups by the IRS.

Some protestors held signs calling for an audit of the IRS itself.

One woman said it’s about time the rest of the country got involved.

“Your IRS is now targeting for political reasons,” said protestor Victoria Taft. “This is the worst I’ve seen it since Watergate. I was alive watching the Watergate hearings as a kid. This is really bad. I think people, they’ve got to wake up.”

Portland’s protesters were joined by other protesters at federal buildings across the country.

In Cincinnati, a crowd packed the sidewalks in front of and across the street from the federal building housing IRS offices handling applications for tax-exempt status, according to the Associated Press. There also were rallies outside IRS offices in Atlanta, Louisville, Chicago, Philadelphia, Kansas City and other cities. In Washington, D.C., a few dozen people gathered outside IRS headquarters, carrying such signs as “Don’t audit me, Bro.”

Among the protesters in Kansas City was Vicki Watkins, a substitute teacher who said she thinks the IRS was trying to “get conservative groups to throw in the towel,” the Associated Press reported.

This comes as a key figure in the controversy said she plans to invoke her constitutional right not to testify at a congressional hearing on Wednesday.

Lois Lerner is the director of the IRS division that handles applications for tax exempt status. That division was responsible for giving extra scrutiny to tea party, patriot and other conservative groups seeking tax exempt status.

In a letter addressed to House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, Lerner’s lawyer says his client has “not committed any crime or made any misrepresentation but under the circumstances she has no choice but to take this course.” He cites an ongoing Justice Department investigation.

Lerner was scheduled to testify to the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.

– The Associated Press contributed information used in this KOIN.com report.

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