WASHINGTON - Crossroads GPS, the behemoth conservative advocacy group behind some of the most robust attacks against President Obama's administration, said Monday that it believes it is among the organizations subjected to special scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service.
The statement by the group comes as campaign finance reform advocates and congressional Democrats have claimed that the IRS failed to examine the activities of Crossroads and other major political players, even as agents in Cincinnati were inappropriately flagging conservative groups.
But on Monday, a spokesman for Crossroads said the group's experience with the IRS indicates that it was also caught in the dragnet.
The organization, which was cofounded by GOP strategist Karl Rove, applied to be recognized as a tax-exempt social welfare group in September 2010 and still has not been approved by the IRS. Its application, which is supposed to remain confidential unless the group's status is approved, was released by the IRS to the investigative website ProPublica in December 2012 in response to a public records request.
"From everything we know - the criteria used by the IRS to target conservative groups, the timing, the still outstanding application after nearly three years, the leaking of the application from the Cincinnati office, and other factors - Crossroads was one of the targeted groups," Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio wrote in an e-mail.
Collegio declined to comment on whether the organization had received the type of extensive questionnaires requesting donor lists and other information that went out to many of the groups that the IRS was examining for their level of political activity.
An IRS spokesman said the agency is legally barred from commenting on applicants for tax-exempt status.
In all, 471 groups that sought tax-exempt status have been pulled for additional scrutiny since 2010, the agency told a House committee.