WASHINGTON – Thousands of protesters descended on the Capitol’s West Lawn on Wednesday to rally against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and its targeting of conservative groups.
Backed by more than a dozen lawmakers from the House and the Senate, the “Audit the IRS” event organized by the Tea Party Patriots featured several prominent conservative lawmakers, including Sens. Mike Lee (Utah), Rand Paul (Ky.), and Ted Cruz (Texas); Reps. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) and Dave Camp (Mich.); and members from those Tea Party groups targeted by the IRS.
Paul began his speech by asking the crowd if they wanted to fire some IRS agents.
“Why don’t we start with the 16,000 IRS agents that are going to implement Obamacare?” Paul asked the thousands of gathered Tea Party activists.
“I’m like most Americans, horrified that my government has gotten out of control and is persecuting people for their religious and their political beliefs,” Paul said.
The Kentucky senator also alluded to Lois Lerner, the former director of the IRS tax-exempt organizations unit, saying she had been “doing this for decades” and had refused to testify and help with the hearings. And, while at the Federal Electoral Commission, she had told Republican candidates they needed to quit, so that “we’ll leave you alone, but you need to never run for office again.”
“She’s been using this bully nature of government,” Paul said. “And we’re sick and tired of government bullies, and we need to send them home.”
The rally comes amid ongoing investigations into the targeting of conservative groups applying for tax exempt-status with the IRS.
“We have been fighting for a decade against people who attacked us. We’ve been fighting for a decade to protect our country. We’ve been fighting for freedom. The freedom we’re fighting for – and I hear it every day from the soldiers – is encoded, is in the Bill of Rights. It is the Constitution,” Paul said.
“I will continue to defend it, and I appreciate your support,” he continued.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) told the crowd President Obama had an “awful lot in common” with Richard Nixon. He also gave the president the moniker “Barack O’Nixon” because of the similarities of the recent scandals to Watergate.
“The Republicans in the House, we must use our majority, our subpoena power,” he said. “To expose the cancer that is growing in that house, and this presidency.”