ATF Director B. Todd Jones Has No Idea Why His Agents Hounded Catherine Engelbrecht in 2012 & 2013

B. Todd Jones, director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had trouble explaining to Congress why his agents made two visits to True the Vote’s Catherine Englebrecht’s place of business in a 13-month period. 

Englebrecht testified about the visits at a hearing last month before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. She explained that shortly after filing the IRS form to establish 501(3)(c) and (3)(4) tax exempt organizations, “an assortment of federal entities, including law enforcement agencies” came knocking at her door. Engelbrecht declared, “in nearly two decades of running our small business, my husband and I never dealt with any government agency outside of filing our annual tax returns. We had never been audited, we had never been investigated, but all that changed upon submitting applications for the non-profit statuses of True the Vote and King Street.”

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is one of the agencies that harrassed the Engelbrechts, conducting “comprehensive audits” at their place of business in 2012 and in 2013.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) had an opportunity to query Jones about those visits during an Oversight and Reform hearing, Wednesday,  on the ATF’s botched undercover storefront operations.

First, he asked Jones about his request for documents relating to the case that he made six weeks ago. Jones had no answer for why he had not yet responded to the request.

But I can tell you. There is a reason why document requests and subpoenas go unanswered for years is because the Obama administration has an official stonewalling strategy, which you can read about here.

Jordan told Jones that Engelbrecht had a Federal Firearms License for 12 years “and suddenly she applies for tax exempt status, and you’re knocking on her door twice in 13 months.” 

“Congressman, I wish I had better answers,”  was all Jones had in reply.

Jordan read a list of “high risk indicators” from the IG report that explains who the ATF is supposed to target in these kinds of FFL inspections – none of which applied to Engelbrecht.

“Imagine what this lady felt like,” Jordan told Jones.“She gets the full weight of the federal government coming down on her and her family and her business, and all she’s trying to do is get a tax-exempt status that had been routine for 50 years, and suddenly now the federal government (is) saying, no, no, no — you’re not going to get that tax-exempt status, and we’re going to send four federal agencies out to harass you, including yours.”

“Well, it’s unfortunate that you and Miss Engelbrecht think it’s harassment,” Jones answered defiantly – expecting people to believe that it was just a crazy coincidence. “From our perspective, it’s part of a regulatory function.”

Jordan then asked a series of questions designed to find out who gave the ATF the order to go after Engelbrecht. Was it the White house, any federal agency, anyone at the ATF, a member of Congress or former DOJ Civil Rights Dir. Thomas Perez? Jones answered no to all of them. 

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