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Patriot Week founder says IRS targeted his harmless group

Oakland County judge says group was started to celebrate U.S. Constitution, but IRS came after it

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ROYAL OAK, Mich. – When Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Michael Warren and his 10-year-old daughter Leah started Patriot Week the goal was to spend a week each year celebrating the principles of the U.S. Constitution with various public activities.

"Like unalienable rights, the social compact, equality -- we have racial equality, we have gender equality -- limit of government, the rule of law," the judge said.

More: Partisan views of IRS targeting differ

Warren did not expect what he says is an apolitical group would draw intense scrutiny from the IRS when they applied for tax exempt status.

The judge says the group went through 19 months of bureaucratic headaches before finally getting approval weeks after the 2012 election.

"When it was happening we really had no belief at all that it was being done because of any kind of malicious intent or animus," said Warren. "We really thought the IRS is a big bureaucracy. They have a lot of rules. They are overworked, and so we are kind of caught up in this bureaucratic snafu."

The IRS now is under investigation after revelations that conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status received extra scrutiny. Judge Warren says he has no proof his group was targeted but his case is similar to the others.

"We know that what happened to us parallels all the complaints that other people have been positioning, and we thought we had an ethical obligation, a duty, to come forward and submit testimony to Congress so that they could know what our experience was," he said.