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“There were already rumors in the mill to beware,” said John Hull, chairman of the Summerville 9-12 Project in South Carolina, which is affiliated with the national Tea Party Patriots.

He said his group talked about the legitimacy that came with being tax-exempt, but members decided they didn’t want the hassle or the potential harassment.

“We don’t believe it’s in our best interest to put a bull’s-eye on our back,” he said.