Ann Maher May 15, 2013, 6:04pm

An Edwardsville attorney who suspects that an organization he leads was unfairly targeted by the Internal Revenue Service because of his outspoken criticism of the federal government said he could be called as a witness in a Congressional probe.

Tad Armstrong, who founded the Constitution study group Earn It, Learn It or Lose It (ELL), said he has been in contact with the offices of Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) and John Shimkus (R-Collinsville) regarding the denial of ELL’s tax exemption application.

According to various media reports, the House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing Friday over admissions that the IRS specially scrutinized conservative groups seeking tax exempt status.

Lois Lerner, director of the IRS’ exempt organizations division, acknowledged last Friday that tea-party affiliated groups were targeted by workers at the IRS Cincinnati field office.

Armstrong said he was told that a Congressional leader is interested in his story - one that began with ELL’s application for tax exempt status in August 2010.

In October 2010, an agent in Cincinnati responded “with a lot of questions,” he said.

For instance, he was asked to what extent Armstrong Law Office would be involved in ELL and about reading materials provided to participants.

Armstrong said the club’s website, which included articles he had written that were critical of government, were scrutinized.

He said he spent many hours and several thousand dollars - having hired a CPA firm for help with the application - in trying to get an exemption as an educational entity.

It wasn’t until October 2011 that he received an 11-page rejection letter from Lerner, Armstrong said.

In December 2011, he said he told an accountant who worked on the application that he was “very confident” that the application was turned down because he “talks to people about the Constitution.”

“This Administration doesn’t want anyone to know about the Constitution,” he said.

He said the accountant, at the time, dismissed his remarks. She called back recently and said, “My goodness, you were right.”

Armstrong criticized the country's “convoluted” tax code saying that it “enables corruption.”

“It enables whoever is in power to enforce against their opponent and not their friends,” he said. “That’s what is so despicable.”

As to whether he believes President Obama had anything to do with the scandal, Armstrong said, “He sets the tone.”

“Here you have Jay Carney saying the President is a staunch defender of the First Amendment,” Armstrong said. “I can’t help but be reminded several times the President saying the Constitution is outdated and gets in his way.”

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