(NBC News) - Victims of improper Internal Revenue Service targeting had their first chance to tell their stories Tuesday in Washington.

Becky Gerritson

described her experience applying for tax-exempt status

for her "Wetumpka Tea Party" group to the House Ways & Means Committee.

The IRS held up her tax exempt status for 15 months.

"I'm a born free American woman, wife, mother and citizen and I'm telling my government: you've forgotten your place," Gerritson said.

Karen Kenny of the San Fernando Valley Patriots says she waited two years, and gave up.

"We survive on my credit card and donations in our cake tin," Kenny said. "Like patriots before us, we persevere."

The testimony came on the same day as new reports of extravagant spending at the agency.

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