In 1980, a dark cloud hung over America.  Under President Jimmy Carter’s leadership, the U.S. boycotted the Summer Olympics, the Iranian hostage crisis had lasted for over 400 days, and gas prices skyrocketed passed $1.00 per gallon for the first time.  Lines of cars stretched for blocks to get rationed gasoline, the military was drastically decreased, and new home owners were faced with dizzying mortgage interest rates of 19 percent.  In a word, a malaise had covered the country, and a church in Northern California decided to do something about it.

Ginny Rapini, a member of Big Valley Grace Community Church, led a small outdoor luncheon to encourage congregants to consider their role in the culture, to get involved in their community and to participate in the political process.

A small business owner, Rapini had been involved in home Bible studies and Sunday school classes, but this topic was a relatively new one for the church.

“It is not unscriptural or unbiblical to be involved in the process,” Rapini encouraged the gathering. “Especially when the government is implementing policies which go against your beliefs.”

Some people nodded their heads in agreement, while others weren’t so sure.

“I don’t feel I need to be involved outside the church,” one luncheon attender said.

“If that’s how you feel, then Christians become a subculture instead of the light and salt for our culture,” she said. “Frankly, if you don’t’ know your city councilman, you are part of the problem.”

Far from being a scold to her friends and fellow congregants, Rapini was inspired to take action too.  She attended a rally at the state capital about parental consent laws.  She wrote letters to her congressmen.  Her daughter wrote a letter to newly elected President Reagan and got a response – including jellybeans.  Through the ensuing administrations, she still found that her activism was confined to church issues.  “But I found that I had to go beyond the boundaries of the church, because I was preaching to the choir.”

After the election of Barack Obama, she got her chance.

“We were extremely stunned,” she said.  “We didn’t think the people would fall for him.” She had been concerned about her culture before, even angered by the actions of the government.  But, for the first time in her life, she felt a different sensation.


At the time, she was leading a Bible study at church.  The story – of how the young Jewish girl Esther saved her people from extermination by risking her life in a petition to the King – had spoken to her.

“I’m not Esther,” Rapini said.  “But God has called many of us for such a time as this.”

After that study, she became willing to get more personally involved.  “I didn’t know where to start, but we had a network of friends and family who felt like we did.

On February 19, 2009, when CNBC business editor Rick Santelli said, “It’s time for another tea party,” Rapini felt invigorated.  She attended a rally at the state capitol in Sacramento on April 15th, which changed the direction of her life.  That day, across the nation, 1.2 million people attended tax day rallies.  “I began to believe that, collectively, we might stand a chance to do something.”

Rapini certainly “did something.”

In July 2009, she started a tea party in her backyard in the small mountain town of Colfax, CA.

“We thought we’d have twenty or thirty, and we ended up having 27 at our first meeting.  Pretty soon, our home wasn’t big enough, so we rented a place in Auburn, twenty miles south of us.  The place we rented could hold 45 people.  We had 57 on that first night.  Then, we moved to the golf course conference room – which could hold 75.  We were able to stay there for three weeks.  Then, we moved into the ballroom, where we used a third, then a half of it.  Eventually we took over the whole ballroom.”

Soon it was obvious that Rapini needed to apply for NorCal Tea Party’s nonprofit status.  In March 2010, she filled out a 35 page request, but didn’t hear anything back from them until August.

“My accountants had warned me about this, so I wasn’t surprised when they asked me for more information,” she said.  “But I was surprised by how much they asked for.”

Thankfully, she was prepared.

“I have a small business, and my husband does too,” she said.  “I know how to keep records, that you never throw anything away, and you keep it where you can find it at a moment’s notice.”

She sent the requested documents in a box of papers, binders, and folders in August, 2010, but did not hear from them again until January 2012.  In the meantime, she called, e-mailed, and wrote letters trying to find out the reason for the delay.

Still, she heard nothing.

The government’s silence didn’t stop her.  Her group put on mega rallies at the State Capitol and coordinated California Bus Tours to educate voters throughout the state.  Rapini began hosting a weekly radio show out of Sacramento called “We The People,” conducting Leadership Training seminars that help to launch about 30 new Tea Party groups in Northern California, Ginny had so many requests for her to help start Tea Party groups, that she pulled together a crew and developed a website called  This resource has helped countless groups not just in Northern California, but nationwide.

“The idea is to multiply. Part of our group would break off so other groups could start,” she said.  “My church background taught me to multiply instead of just add.”

Her hard work and leadership helped shape and form the California Tea Party movement.  NorCal Tea Party hosted the first statewide California Tea Party Leadership Conference in 2011 which had over 100 leaders in attendance.  In fact, Rapini got the whole family involved.  Her grandkids have sung at their events and passed out cookies.  At one fundraiser, one grandchild passed out handwritten notes on pieces of paper which read: “Donate to NorCal Tea Party!”

“Also, my older grandson came to one of our meetings, and I introduced him as a future Marine,” she fondly recalled.  “He got a standing ovation.”

The IRS delay caused headaches and complications, as her group waited on its non-profit status.

“The state wanted us to pay corporate taxes which we wouldn’t have had to pay under non-profit rules,” she said.  “We were just hanging out in purgatory.”

In 2012, Rapini received a questionnaire from the IRS, with 97 points of inquiry. The government asked her for incredibly intrusive information – like transcripts of all the speakers who had addressed the group, copies of everything that had been handed out in their meetings, and a list of their donors. After years of silence they gave her just four weeks to respond.

Faced with such a daunting task, she thought.  “I can’t do this.”

“But that’s how they wanted me to feel,” she said.  Then, she gathered herself up, got angry, and declared, “I’m going to do this!”

Within two weeks time, she got together the information they requested and sent the IRS a box of 3000 pages of information.  In it, she included a white teddy bear with blue and white stars on it, because the group had handed those out at a prior event.  “I put an exhibit identification on the teddy bear and included it in the box. I also included a pocket constitution, the leadership manual I wrote, and all of our fliers. I keep copies of all that stuff.” She did not comply with the request for her membership list.  “I knew that wasn’t a part of the normal process,” she said.

Shipping the box to the IRS – with receipt acknowledgement – cost her hundreds of dollars. She beat the deadline, but months went by and Ginny heard nothing from the IRS.

After the silence, The IRS contacted her a few times. “They kept asking for silly, meaningless changes.  They asked me to change the word ‘and’ in the bylaws,” she said.  “With each change, I had to send them a $30 check!”

That’s when her congressmen, Tom McClintock, put her in touch with a taxpayer advocacy group and even mentioned her plight during a speech on house floor.  Three weeks after McClintock sent a letter to the IRS on her behalf, Rapini received a call.

“You have your letter of approval for your tax exempt status,” The IRS official said.  “You certainly sent us a lot of material.”

“I sent only what you requested,” Rapini said.

“Yes,” the person on the phone quipped.  “But I did have to read it all.”

“Good!” Rapini said.  “I hope you read the Constitution, which I included as well!”

Once Rapini got her letter from the IRS, she submitted a request to the state franchise tax board.  At that point, the IRS is supposed to give approval to the state.  Though she submitted this in September, to date NorCal Tea Party still has not received approval of their non-profit status from the State of California.   On May 20th, 2013, the NorCal Tea Party, in coordination with Citizens for Self-Governance,  (CSG) filed a lawsuit against the IRS after it was revealed that the government agency had targeted certain groups.  Still, Rapini doesn’t regret her involvement at all.

“We had to get in and roll our sleeves up, we might lose our country,” she said.  “And I could tell that God had prepared me for this through my church involvement.”

Not everyone has had the same fighting spirit.

“I’ve had people send me checks in support,” she said.  “But others have told me, ‘I can’t support you any more financially and I won’t be at rallies, because I’m afraid the IRS will audit me.’ Others say, ‘I’m in the middle of an audit, so I can’t be associated with you anymore.’

“I understand the fear,” Rapini says, “But I don’t relate to it. I will not let the IRS hold me back.  I have rights.  They may be trying to take them away,” she said.  “But I still have them.

About The Author

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.

No Responses

  1. Lea

    I seldom comment, however I looked through some responses here Standing Up to Big Government and
    the IRS for ALL of our Rights | Citizens for Self-Governance.
    I do have 2 questions for you if it’s allright. Is it only me or does it seem like some of these remarks appear like they are coming from brain dead people? 😛 And, if you are posting at additional social sites, I’d like to follow you.
    Could you post a list of the complete urls of all
    your shared sites like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin

  2. Betty Crowley

    Ginny Rapini, I have gone to some of our Tea Party meetings here in Bakersfield, CA.
    I commend you on how you are fighting our gov. and the IRS. Keep up the good work. I’m also involved with Acts for America. Maybe you have heard of the group.

    I’m so disappointed in the gov. that they are going on with the President with all of the invasipn of our privacy.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

8 + eight =