Ohio legal center says IRS sought its tea party ties

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law is adding its name to conservative groups saying they were harassed by the Internal Revenue Service.

Director Maurice Thompson said Thursday the IRS asked the center to detail its involvement with the Tea Party when it applied for tax-exempt status in 2010.

The Justice Department is investigating "inappropriate targeting" that the IRS says was initiated by low-level employees in its Cincinnati office and not motivated by political bias.

Thompson says the request pre-dated previously cited targeting. It was also unusual because the center was not applying for 501(c)(4) political or lobbying status and had none of the IRS' targeted key words in its name or application.

An IRS spokesman deferred comment because of the pending investigation.

The center's tax-exemption was ultimately granted.

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