The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is reportedly under investigation by the Internal Revenue Service for violating the terms of its tax-exempt status in a probe that the group's chairman says stems from comments he made that were critical of President Bush.

The IRS denied the claim. "Any suggestion that the IRS has tilted its audit activities for political purposes is repugnant and groundless," IRS Commissioner Mark Everson said in a statement.

According to the Washington Post, the civil rights organization was charged in an Oct. 8 IRS document of "distributing statements in opposition of George W. Bush for the presidency," during the NAACP's July convention in Philadelphia.

Tax-exempt organizations are restricted to non-partisan status with regard to political activities.

Documents provided to the Associated Press by NAACP chair Julian Bond's office said that IRS agents were investigating his July 11 convention keynote address, in which he said of the Bush administration: "They preach racial neutrality and practice racial division. They've tried to patch the leaky economy and every other domestic problem with duct tape and plastic sheets. They write a new constitution of Iraq and they ignore the Constitution here at home," the AP reported.

The president had declined an invitation to speak at the NAACP confab.

The Post quoted Bond as saying that he found it "Nixonian" for the administration to send such a letter a month before the presidential election, and said it was designed to intimidate the group.

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