Marc Norman / Newscom

Marc Norman / Newscom

American taxpayers ought to be inspired to stand up to the Internal Revenue Service by the people “dying in Ukraine,” the top dog at a leading government watchdog group said this morning.

“Criminal investigation has to be the end game,” Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said during a discussion of the unfolding IRS targeting scandal at the CPAC gathering just outside Washington, D.C. “The IRS activity we’re talking about is completely lawless.”

Fitton said later:

“We’re very unique in having a vigorous civil society outside of the control of government. … People are dying in Ukraine over this. For speaking out against their government.”

Bill Norton, a national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots, said he thinks Americans involved in that movement for limited government care most about protecting political free speech, including the freedom to exchange information and check the power of government.

Case in point: Tea Party Patriots applied in 2010 for 501(c)4 nonprofit tax status, but waited until May 2013 for approval.

“The day before I testified [at a House hearing on the IRS scandal],” recalled Jenny Beth Martin, president and co-founder, “we received a call from the IRS that we were approved.”

Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, had a bottom-line assessment: “What is the sole purpose of the IRS? It’s to collect taxes.”

But the reason the  agency was holding up applications of  conservative advocacy groups such as Tea Party Patriots, Spakovsky said, “was to chill their activities.”

CPAC, the annual Conservative Political Action Conference that attracts thousands of activists and politicians from across the nation, runs through Saturday at the Gaylord convention center complex along the Potomac River in suburban Maryland.

This story was produced by The Foundry’s news team. Nothing here should be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of The Heritage Foundation.