Both U.S. Senators from Texas, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), grilled U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Wednesday over federal abuses in scrutiny of Tea Party organizations across the U.S.
Sen. Cruz focused on the IRS, and Sen. Cornyn focused on the story Breitbart News broke that the scandal was broader in relation to True the Vote, the Texas-based nonprofit that was also seemingly harassed by two Department of Justice agencies (DOJ), not just the IRS.
Breitbart News was the first to report that the IRS abuses of Tea Party groups extended beyond the IRS and into the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF, or more commonly known as the ATF).
The May 13, 2013 piece by Breitbart News titled “Multiple Agencies Involved With IRS Intimidation” revealed that True the Vote and the group’s founder, Catherine Engelbrecht, had been seemingly targeted since 2010 by various federal agencies.
This author wrote:
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.”
Breitbart News followed up the next day with a piece titled “True the Vote Founder: DOJ Scrutinized Us After IRS Filing” in which this author wrote:
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.
“They [FBI] contacted us, asked questions about one of the people whoattended a program,” Engelbrecht told Breitbart News. “They asked forus to call if he ever showed back up. They repeated [their calls] overtime, but no longer about that individual. They said they were justcalling to check up with us. They called to check up with us a greatdeal and said it was ‘routine.'”
Engelbrecht added: “We support law enforcement and the FBI beginningto call wasn’t such a big deal in itself, but it came as the IRS wasprobing us and auditing everything. It came as the ATF began surprisevisits and audits of our business.”
She added: “Not only were the IRS, ATF, and FBI now in our lives, butOSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] and a governmentalenvironmental entity started auditing us in surprise visits as well.”
Engelbrecht said the sheer number of agencies auditing her in suchrapid succession of each other led her to feel she had been targeted forher political activities.
The two videos below show Senator Cornyn and Senator Cruz questioning Attorney General Eric Holder.
Follow Brandon Darby on Twitter: @brandondarby.