Tea party groups’ allegations that the IRS has long been targeting them for their political beliefs were recently confirmed by an apology from the IRS. The scandal gained traction as congressional leaders began efforts to hold the IRS accountable and understand the depths of the federal government’s politically-motivated abuses of power.
Yet given the history of such abuses, the problem may extend further than the IRS, and require a “government-wide” probe across several agencies, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has suggested.
The issue was initially believed to only involve groups with “Tea Party” or “patriots” in their names being singled out for greater scrutiny by the IRS, but recent admissions reveal that a wide range of conservative and constitution-oriented groups were singled out by the federal government. Most media outlets have focused on 2012 as the year the abuses occurred, but one prominent Tea Party-initiated organization, True the Vote, began to run into alleged federal government abuses in 2010–from a variety of agencies.
True the Vote, a Houston-based nonprofit which focuses on election integrity issues, was formed by Catherine Engelbrecht and her King Street Patriots Tea Party group. True the Vote applied to the IRS for their 501(c3) non-profit status in July 2010, and almost immediately their problems began.
Within two years, multiple federal agencies, along with an EPA-affiliated Texas state agency, began auditing True the Vote and its founders, visiting their group, their businesses, and asking questions of people who knew them. The IRS was not the only governmental agency involved.
True the Vote’s experiences with the IRS’s abuse of power were recently discussed by Catherine Engelbrecht in a previous interview with Breitbart News. She said:
We applied for nonprofit C-3 status early in 2010. Since that time the IRS has run us through a gauntlet of analysts and hundreds of questions over and over again. They’ve requested to see each and every tweet I’ve ever tweeted or Facebook post I’ve ever posted. They also asked to know every place I’ve ever spoken since our inception and to whom, and everywhere I intend to speak in the future.
Engelbrecht’s application with the IRS for non-profit status allegedly triggered aggressive audits of one of her family’s personal businesses as well. The FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) began a series of inquiries about her and her group; the BATF (Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms) began demanding to see her family’s firearms in surprise audits of her and her husband’s small gun dealership–which had done less than $200 in sales; OSHA (Occupational Safety Hazards Administration) began a surprise audit of their small family manufacturing business; and the EPA-affiliated TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environment Quality) did a surprise visit and audit due to “a complaint being called in.”
The Democratic Party of Texas filed a lawsuit against her, as did an ACORN affiliated group. Both the FBI and the BATF continued to poke around her life, the lives of people in her Tea Party group, and her businesses.
Ultimately, the IRS determined that it actually owed a refund to Engelbrecht; the BATF found nothing wrong in any of its repeated visits and audits; OSHA’s fine-toothed comb found reason to demand $25,000 from Engelbrecht’s family business; and TCEQ demanded the Engelbrechts spend $42,000 on additional storage sheds.
“This is what the beginning of tyranny looks like,” Engelbrecht said. “My family and I have lived with great concern that we would be subject to even greater government abuses if we were vocal about what they were doing to us because of our political views and our efforts to increase governmental accountability.
“We are now convinced the only way to protect ourselves from our government is to speak out and bring our story straight to the American people. If such politically-motivated governmental abuses of power can happen to us, they can happen to anyone,” said Engelbrecht.