I don't know what other conclusion you can come to after reading this from USA Today:
In February 2010, the Champaign Tea Party in Illinois received approval of its tax-exempt status from the IRS in 90 days, no questions asked.
That was the month before the Internal Revenue Service started singling out Tea Party groups for special treatment. There wouldn't be another Tea Party application approved for 27 months.
In that time, the IRS approved perhaps dozens of applications from similar liberal and progressive groups, a USA TODAY review of IRS data shows.
As applications from conservative groups sat in limbo, groups with liberal-sounding names had their applications approved in as little as nine months. With names including words like "Progress" or "Progressive," the liberal groups applied for the same tax status and were engaged in the same kinds of activities as the conservative groups.
Some time in early 2010, the IRS made a decision that it was going to actively thwart the expansion of the Tea Party. The agency charged with collecting revenue instead acted as an intellectual suppressant, trying to stop the spread of conservative ideas. This goes way, way beyond singling Tea Party groups out for harassment.
Of course we want to get all the facts before we start pointing fingers. But it seems inconceivable that the IRS—an agency of career bureaucrats with little vested interest in the Tea Party—made this decision on its own. Thanks to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, we know the EPA disproportionately granted FOIA fee waivers to friendly groups and charged conservative ones. There needs to be a thorough and across-the-board investigation into where and how often this sort of thing occurred.