Anger at IRS Powers Tea-Party Comeback

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from Wall Street JOurnal,

Controversy Over Targeting Reinvigorates Group.

With clipboard in hand and “don’t tread on me” rattlesnake earrings dangling, Jenny Beth Martin, the woman sometimes described as the tea party’s den mother, stood guard over the microphone at a Capitol Hill protest of the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups.

Lawmakers sweltered in a long line waiting to take the stage earlier this summer before a crowd of roughly 10,000 and a live Web audience. It was up to Mrs. Martin to decide who would get a turn.

After a tough 2012 election season, the tea-party movement is on the rebound. Mrs. Martin, head of the Tea Party Patriots, is riding a revival of interest sparked by controversy over the IRS’s much-publicized targeting of conservative groups. She says the Patriots, the tea party’s largest umbrella group, suffered because of the IRS’s refusal to grant it tax-exempt status but now is benefiting from the backlash. Her group’s monthly donations, she says, have tripled recently, and its staff has doubled.

The uproar has revived media attention and renewed the intensity of many tea-party supporters. Just last week, Mrs. Martin says, the Patriots received a new letter from the IRS asking for additional information about the group’s activities, including copies of all direct-mail solicitations and telemarketing scripts before the 2012 election and any advertising materials in 2013. “This is beyond anger and frustration,” she says.

Public-opinion polls suggest the controversy has helped the movement’s image. In a June 15 Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, 51% of Republicans said they had a positive view of the tea party, up from 42% in January, but still below the 63% recorded in December 2010. Among all adults, 26% had a positive view, up from 23% in January.

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