BEDFORD — Former U.S. Sen. Gordon Humphrey applauded leaders of conservatives whose battle with the Internal Revenue Service led them to Capitol Hill earlier this summer and to New Hampshire on Thursday.
Humphrey encouraged others to do the same as the keynote speaker at the event "New Hampshire Citizens Against Government Abuse."
"We need to become a movement that embraces resistance," Humphrey said. "When you are pushed, push back. In fact, when you are pushed, shove back."
Humphrey, who represented New Hampshire in the Senate from 1979-1990 as a Republican, criticized both the GOP and the Democratic Party and called the Tea Party movement the "best thing to happen to this country since 1791," when the Bill of Rights became part of the Constitution.
The event at Manchester Country Club was centered around Tea Party activists who came from throughout the country to speak about their lengthy battle with the IRS, feeling they were targeted because of their conservative political views. Moderator Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and national coordinator of Tea Party Patriots, flew in from Georgia and introduced the later speakers after some remarks of her own.
"We're not going to stop. We are going to do what they fear most," Martin said. "We're going to keep showing up and speaking up and we're going to do it at every place we possibly can."
Conservative businessman Andrew Hemingway of New Hampshire Republican Leadership Institute spoke as a large image of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen hovered on a screen behind him.
Shaheen joined several Democrat senators in a letter asking the IRS to crack down on nonprofits "engaged in a substantial amount of political campaign activity."
Martin introduced Kevin Kookogey, a Tennessee man and president of a group called Linchpins of Liberty. Kookogey testified before the House Ways and Means Committee in June and on Thursday recounted his 2 1/2-year battle with the IRS.
Kookogey said the IRS' continued requests for information included names of his students, some of them minors, as well as political affiliations of donors to his group.
"Clearly I had been targeted for the content of my speech," he said.
Humphrey, who was interrupted several times with applause, said the Obama administration's continued push to monitor communications in the name of national security is the latest in a line of frightening steps by the federal government.
"I would say we're on the doorstep of a police state. We are a few mouse clicks and a few secret court decisions away," he said.