True the Vote Founder: DOJ Scrutinized Us After IRS Filing
As IRS talking points disintegrate, Americans from across the political spectrum are expressing outrage about the recent revelations that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) intentionally singled out conservatives and Tea party groups for increased governmental scrutiny and audits prior to the 2012 presidential election.
However, the experiences of one prominent Tea party-derived group indicate the scrutiny did not stop with the IRS, but involved agencies from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) as well.
The Houston-based group, True the Vote, was founded by Catherine Engelbrecht and members of her King Street Patriots Tea Party effort. True the Vote’s experiences are set apart from many of the other organizations that were discriminated against by the IRS due to their having applied for 501(c3) status and not just 501(c4) status.
The group received an unprecedented level of scrutiny from the IRS since its original application for 501(c3) status was filed in 2010. The IRS sent rounds of questions over several years that went as far as demanding to see each and every tweet Engelbrecht had ever sent out and each and every speech she had ever given.
The IRS did not stop there. They demanded to know who had spoken at the group and to see each and every speech the speakers had given. They demanded to know the identities of all members of the group and who had attended their meetings. The list of probing and outlandish questions was exhaustive.
Soon, the IRS began to audit Engelbrecht’s family business and her personally. And the scrutiny from the federal government did not stop with the IRS.
Two DOJ agencies, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) began to make their presence felt in Engelbrecht’s life as well.
“They [FBI] contacted us, asked questions about one of the people who attended a program," Engelbrecht told Breitbart News. "They asked for us to call if he ever showed back up. They repeated [their calls] over time, but no longer about that individual. They said they were just calling to check up with us. They called to check up with us a great deal and said it was ‘routine."
Engelbrecht added: "We support law enforcement and the FBI beginning to call wasn’t such a big deal in itself, but it came as the IRS was probing us and auditing everything. It came as the ATF began surprise visits and audits of our business."
She added: "Not only were the IRS, ATF, and FBI now in our lives, but OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] and a governmental environmental entity started auditing us in surprise visits as well.”
Engelbrecht said the sheer number of agencies auditing her in such rapid succession of each other led her to feel she had been targeted for her political activities.
Engelbrecht’s records indicate the ATF did two surprise audits on her family business in two consecutive years. She and her husband own a machine shop and have a license to manufacture firearms, though her records show they have never conducted any substantial business in the firearms industry.
We’ve had this license for years and the ATF never showed up," she said. "All of the sudden they arrived and conducted a surprise search through our records, our safe, and inspected our firearms. It was legal for them to do so, but the timing of all of it together was concerning. They came back the following year and did the same thing.”
Breitbart News first learned of Engelbrecht’s and True the Vote’s experiences in 2011 and began documenting the details. But Engelbrecht was concerned that speaking out would cause even more federal agencies to enter her life. She said: "When this happens to you, there’s a sense of embarrassment or shame you go through and a concern that so many entities examining you will somehow make you look guilty of something in the public’s eyes.”
“All I have is the truth, and it’s important that Americans know about this and that our government look into any possible connections between the multiple federal agencies who all showed interest in us in such rapid succession of each other and the issues with IRS abusing power,” said Engelbrecht. She added: "I’m concerned about the possibility of reprisals from these agencies or others, and what going public may mean to my businesses, but more importantly what it may mean to the well-being of my family.”
"This all began shortly after we applied for our nonprofit status with the IRS," said Engelbrecht.