The Tea Party affair started with a Feb. 25, 2010 e-mail from Cincinnati-based IRS agent Jack Koester to his boss, Screening Group Manager John Shafer. Shafer, in turn, sent it to his superiors, including some Washington staff, elevating it as a “high profile case.”
The Cincinnati employees weren’t quite sure what the Tea Party was, but they knew it was politically sensitive. “This case will be sent to inventory for further development. Political campaigns on behalf (of) or in opposition to any political candidate do not promote social welfare,” Shafer wrote to his bosses. The Tea Party groups were seeking tax exempt status as “social welfare” groups.