The founder of a nonprofit group that focuses on election integrity said that she – and her family businesses – were targeted by the IRS and the federal government because of her political beliefs.
Testifying before a House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs hearing on Thursday to discuss the IRS’s targeting of conservatives, Catherine Engelbrecht, the founder of True the Vote, was asked by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) why, “deep down,” she believed she had fifteen visits from four federal agencies in a span of two years after her group applied for tax-exempt status with the IRS in 2010.
“I think I was targeted because of my political beliefs,” Engelbrecht told Jordan.
Jordan then replied that he believed Engelbrecht was targeted because of her conservative beliefs and because her group was effective at educating voters about free and fair elections, and had been praised by state attorneys general for cleaning up voter rolls, monitoring election fraud, and even engaging in outreach to Hispanic Americans.
“They targeted you because it was working,” Jordan said. “They said, ‘We can’t have this. Here’s a conservative who is making an impact.’ That’s why you were targeted.”
In a previous interview with Breitbart News, Engelbrecht described her experiences with the IRS since her group applied for tax-exempt status in 2010:
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.
As Breitbart News also reported, True the Vote’s application for tax-exempt status started the left’s war on Engelbrecht and her organization and also “triggered aggressive audits of one of her family’s personal businesses as well.” Engelbrecht’s business had never been visited by the federal government before:
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.”
Jordan then said it was outrageous that the IRS was asking Engelbrecht and other Tea Party leaders about their “political connections” when the person investigating the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party groups donated to President Barack Obama’s campaign. Barbara Bosserman, a trial attorney within the IRS’s Civil Rights Commission who maxed out donations to the Obama campaign, is leading the investigation, and Jordan mentioned that less than one tenth of one percent of Americans have maxed out to a political candidate.
“If that’s not irony, I don’t know what is,” Jordan said.
Jay Sekulow of the American Center of Law and Justice, who is defending some of those who were targeted by the IRS, said that the choice to allow Bosserman to head the targeting investigation raises “serious ethical concerns.” Sekulow said that Bosserman may have well brought up the concerns about her potential conflict of interest but the Department of Justice could have just ignored them.
Obama, though, has repeatedly claimed there was no wrongdoing. Just recently, he said there was “not a smidgeon of corruption” in the IRS in an interview with Fox News before the Super Bowl.