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June 19th, 2013
06:11 PM ET

Tea party group on IRS controversy: It's not about White House involvement

Most Americans do not like the Internal Revenue Service, and both Republicans and Democrats agree that conservative organizations were victims when the IRS recently targeted such groups seeking tax exempt status.

Yet even in a rare instance where almost everyone is on the same page, the controversy remains at a standstill.

On May 15th, Attorney General Eric Holder promised a criminal investigation into why these groups were given a harder time in the run-up to the 2012 election. More than a month after that promise, it appears the Justice Department has not contacted a single tea party group about the probe.

A law firm representing 25 tea party groups in a lawsuit tells CNN it has not heard from a single federal agency.

FBI Director Robert Mueller defended the pace of the investigation Wednesday, and said "over a dozen" agents have been assigned to the case.

CNN asked the Justice Department about the progress of the IRS investigation, they declined to comment, saying that it is still ongoing.

Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, said her group got the run around when it applied for tax exempt status. To date, she said, no one from the Justice Department or FBI have reached out.

"We talked to several hundred groups around the country in the past five or six days about this specifically. None of them have heard from [officials]. Not a single one from around the country we have talked to," said Martin.

Congressman 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 Tuesday. That agent testified the IRS scrutiny started as normal business and an attempt to consolidate the groups applying.

Asked if he thought it was motivated by a desire to target the president's political enemies he said, according to the transcript, "I don't believe the screening of the cases had anything to do other than consistency and identifying issues that needed to have further development."

Asked if the White House was involved, he said, "I have no reason to believe that."

"For me, this isn't about whether the White House has been involved or not. The IRS, the agents who worked there took this agency and used it as a political weapon against citizens in this country," said Martin.

"They singled us out for political beliefs," said Martin.

Some progressive groups were also targeted.

Martin said the agency continues to withhold judgement on the group's application.

"They are stringing us along to this day, since December of 2010," said Martin.

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