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By Jonathan Weisman, NYTimes.com

The Internal Revenue Service is caught in an election-year struggle between Democratic lawmakers pressing for a crackdown on nonprofit political groups and conservative organizations accusing the tax agency of conducting a politically charged witch hunt. . . .

The pushback is likely to be just as fierce. Jay Sekulow, a conservative lawyer known more for his stands on religious freedom than for his tax work, said he is representing 16 Tea Party groups that are claiming harassment by the I.R.S., and the number is growing. He said he intended to demand an explanation from the Treasury Department on Wednesday for what he called “McCarthyism” tactics and that he would contact Republican lawmakers this week.

“This is obviously a coordinated effort by the I.R.S. to stifle these Tea Party and Tea Party-affiliated groups, and to stifle free speech activities,” Mr. Sekulow said. “It’s as onerous as what they did to the N.A.A.C.P. in the 1950s, and I plan to make that point.”. . .

You can read the entire story here.

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