I never thought I’d be writing this, but I empathize with the Tea Party. Three years ago I was part of a group seeking to launch a non-profit investigative reporting organization. We believed that the decline in the traditional media’s ability to conduct in-depth, independent investigations deprived the public of a critical source of information and oversight. Our efforts were not novel: The Center for Investigative Reporting, NPR and others had been operating as non-profits for years, and Pro Publica has won two Pulitzers since it began in 2008. We knew the IRS process was cumbersome, but we had no idea how bureaucratic – after three years and three revisions of our application, we are still awaiting judgment. My assumption, to be honest, was that the IRS did not like journalists, especially those with no corporate ownership and no agenda but the truth – which would make the agency a good target for the journalism we proposed to do. Singling out organizations for special scrutiny based on their political convictions is not new in this country, nor has it been confined to conservative organizations. In any form, it is reprehensible and a threat to the democratic process. But there is another question to ask: why are purely political groups granted tax-exempt status in the first place – not just the tea parties, but the huge political fund-raising machines, spawned by the Citizens United case, that spent more on advertising in 2012 than the SuperPACS, and whose secret donor lists and covert activities are no less dangerous to the republic?