PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The founder of a local conservative Tea Party-related group would not appear on camera for fear of IRS retaliation.

“We as average citizens do not want to take the risk that would be associated with going public, talking about the group and the individuals involved,” he told KDKA political editor Jon Delano.

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But without naming names, he did want to talk about his group’s effort to get tax-exempt status from the IRS.

“We received a questionnaire from the IRS, a letter and questionnaire, and it was extensive, asking questions that we could not understand why it was necessary to reveal a lot of information,” he said. “As a result of that, our treasurer resigned and we did not move forward.”

The IRS requested all questions ever asked a candidate, candidate questionnaires, and what percent of their time would focus on the 2012 election cycle.

“A chilling effect on what I consider to be a citizen’s right to be educated, petition the government, and address grievances that citizens might have,” he said.

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Sam DeMarco, who organized another local group called Veterans & Patriots United to host candidate forums, did push ahead with the IRS.

“The IRS wanted every question to every candidate that we had asked at every forum. To me that was a little bit unreasonable, and the fact is we certainly couldn’t provide that,” said DeMarco.

In March the IRS turned down their tax-exempt request but reversed course in April.

DeMarco says the agent he dealt with was very professional, and he suspects others of originating the focus on Tea Party groups.

“I would find this hard to believe that this originated or started at the lower levels,” he added.

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