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June 19th, 2013
05:21 PM ET

IRS controversy revives tea party

The tea party was out in force Wednesday, railing against the Internal Revenue Service on Capitol Hill.

"Some people are trying to write the obituary for the tea party. But if you look around at this crowd here today on a Wednesday afternoon, the tea party is alive and well, and instead, we're going to write the obituary for big government," Mike Needham of Heritage Action told the crowd.

The tea party came to prominence before the 2010 elections, when its small-government ethos energized the Republican party, leading to massive victories at the polls. But after that, the tea party seemed to be on a slower boil.

"The tea party never went away, we changed our focus," said Bob Mason, a Tea Party member who attended the rally dressed as George Washington. "We're stronger. We're more resolute, and we have more resources. Now that we get our tax exemptions we'll have even more resources."

Recent controversies stemming from the Obama administration - like the IRS targeting tea party groups - have breathed new life into into the conservative-fueled movement.

"Anybody want to fire some IRS agents?" Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, said to loud cheers.

"This is not a flash-in-the-pan protest. This is going to go on until there's redress. We've been violated as tea party members, as conservatives," said tea party member Dominik Hoffman.

Their ire is largely directed at the Obama administration. But on Tuesday, Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee that is investigating the controversy, released a full transcript of an interview with an IRS agent. Democrats say the transcript absolved the White House of responsibility in targeting tea party groups' tax-exempt status.

The blame, Cummings says, rests almost entirely with the agents in the Cincinnati office.

But that revelation has not diminished the tea party's fervor.

"How dare the government snoop in on our phone calls and our emails? Just because you disagree with what i believe in or what I say gives you no right!" said Lorraine Land, who got involved with the tea party just a month ago.

Although Obama will not be on any more ballots, the tea party sees ways to further weaken him with news this week that his poll numbers are dropping.

The group is already mobilizing for the next wave of House and Senate elections.

"This movement, by 2014, will make 2010 look like a Sunday picnic for the Democrats," said Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, a popular figure in the tea party movement.

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