What's going on between the IRS and True the Vote?
Texas businesswoman Catherine Engelbrecht says she never had trouble
with the government. That is, until she founded two groups with
conservative causes. Now, she's telling a fascinating story of alleged
harassment not only by the IRS but also other agencies that she believes
targeted her and her organizations because of their political ties.
officials have recently admitted improperly giving special scrutiny to
conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status because the agency was
"swamped with applications" and looking for "shortcuts". But in a
federal lawsuit filed last week, Engelbrecht claims the IRS' actions
toward her interests actually created a great deal more effort and
paperwork for all concerned.
The trouble began shortly
after Engelbrecht founded True the Vote, which trains election
volunteers and aims to root out voter fraud; and King Street Patriots, a
group with ideals similar to the Tea Party. Both sought tax-exempt
status from the IRS in July 2010. And both organizations drew the ire of
Democrats. Democrats accused True the Vote of intimidating voters in
its poll watching efforts, which the group denies. And the Texas
Democratic Party successfully sued King Street Patriots, arguing that
it's an unregistered political action committee.
But Engelbrecht's attorney, Cleta Mitchell, says it's not just the
Democratic Party that went after the conservative causes, but also the
federal government. Within months of the groups filing for tax-exempt
status, Engelbrecht claims she started getting hit by an onslaught of
harassment: six FBI domestic terrorism inquiries, an IRS visit, two IRS
business audits, two IRS personal audits, and inspections of her
equipment manufacturing company by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and
Firearms (ATF), the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and
Health Administration (OSHA) and Texas environmental quality officials. (Continues)