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As IRS Scandal Endures, Kentucky Tea Party Activists Split on Mitch McConnell


As the scandal surrounding the targeting of tea party groups by the IRS continues,some Kentucky tea party activists are upset with Senator Mitch McConnell's role in the process—even as the state party is asking them to support him.

In Kentucky, only the statewide 9/12 project has come forward to acknowledge that they were targeted and that they were rejecting the IRS' apology on the matter.

But that hasn't stopped Kentucky politicians, including McConnell, from consistently pointing to the issue. He's demanded a full investigation into the matter.

The Republican Party of Kentucky is circulating a letter to back up McConnell on his efforts, asking tea party activists in Kentucky to sign it.

But Kentucky tea party activist David Adams called the attempts opportunistic.

"Not before—no, but after, they put on a full court press, which is kind of funny but mostly just offensive," said Adams, who works with several Kentucky tea party groups, including Kentucky 9/12.

McConnell's office says they were contacted by Kentucky 9/12's leader, Eric Wilson about their IRS problems before the current news cycle and referenced the issues with the 9/12 group in a 2012 speech. McConnell also sent a letter to the IRS on the group's behalf in 2012, when they were targeted.

McConnell also received an endorsement from today, according to Politico.

Adams says he was approached by Team Kentucky, part of the Republican Party of Kentucky, to sign the letter supporting McConnell in the IRS matter. Adams says he offered to sign on—but only if McConnell apologized for his support of the Patriot Act, bank bailout, raising the debt ceiling and other issues.

Adams has been actively recruiting a challenger to McConnell for his 2014 re-election. He says no other prominent tea party groups have signed the letter to his knowledge.

The draft letter circulated among tea party groups shows that at least two groups have signed the letter in support of McConnell—The Barren County Patriots and the Grassroots Boone County Tea Party.  Two other national groups, including the Campaign for Liberty, have signed the letter, as well as more than 30 individuals involved with said groups.

Adams says elected officials should focus more on campaign finance reforms regarding donations and not on "photo ops" with tea party groups.

Other Republicans, including state party chairman Steve Robertson, have praised McConnell for his outspokenness on the matter.

Kenny Colston is the Frankfort Bureau Chief for Kentucky Public Radio (a collaborative effort of public radio stations in Kentucky). Colston has covered Kentucky's Capitol and state government since 2010. He is a Louisville native, and a graduate of the University of Kentucky. When he's not tracking down stories about Kentucky politics, you can often find him watching college sports, particularly football.
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