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The former chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said the Internal Revenue Service was right in targeting tea party groups, which he called "the Taliban wing of American politics," in an interview with MSNBC posted on Tuesday.
"No, I don't think there's a double standard at all. I think it's entirely legitimate to look at the tea party," said Julian Bond, who served as NAACP chairman from 1998 through 2009. "I mean, here are a group of people who are admittedly racist, who are overtly political, who've tried as best they can to harm President Obama in every way they can."
The IRS admitted last week that a number of its agents had singled out organizations carrying the words "tea party" or "patriot" in exemption applications between 2010 and 2012. The IRS apologized, but a number of politicians, including President Barack Obama, have called the targeting of conservative groups "outrageous" and promised that those responsible will be held accountable for their actions.
During the MSNBC interview, Bond rejected parallels between the IRS targeting the NAACP during the Bush administration and the present situation, saying that the two incidents cannot be compared.
"It was wrong for the IRS to behave in this heavy-handed manner. They didn't explain it well before or now what they're doing and why they're doing it. But there are no parallels between these two," Bond insisted.
After he described the tea party as "the Taliban wing of American politics" and suggested that "we all ought to be a little worried about them," Bond was asked if such a description was "harsh."
"Not at all, not at all. The truth may hurt, but it's the truth," the former NAACP chairman replied.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) called for a full investigation into the matter: "These actions by the IRS are an outrageous abuse of power and a breach of the public's trust. Targeting groups based on their political views is not only inappropriate but it is intolerable.
"We need to know who knew what, and exactly what mistakes were made. The American people have questions for the IRS and I intend to get answers. I want to review the Inspector General's report first, but the IRS should be prepared for a full investigation into this matter by the Senate Finance Committee. The IRS will now be the ones put under additional scrutiny."