Quelle coincidence! On the very day media apostate Matt Taibbi was testifying before Congress on the weaponization of intelligence, an IRS agent visited his New Jersey home and left a note telling him to contact the agency.
Who knew the IRS made house calls? Reportedly, the IRS rejected Taibbi’s 2018 and 2021 tax filings due to identity theft issues, but the home visit was the first Taibbi had heard of the problem.
Protested House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, “In light of the hostile reaction to Mr. Taibbi’s reporting among left-wing activists, and the IRS’s history as a tool of government abuse, the IRS’s action could be interpreted as an attempt to intimidate a witness before Congress.”
In the avalanche of scandals during these past 10 years, it is easy to forget just how outrageous was IRS abuse during the Obama years, but leftist politics were and are baked into the agency’s DNA.
If proof were needed, in 2008, the IRS union, the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), gave 96% of the $641,950 raised from its employees to Democratic candidates.
Then President Barack Obama promptly repaid the favor. In December 2009, he issued Executive Order 13522, allowing employees and unions to have “pre-decisional involvement in all workplace matters.”
That same month, he and wife, Michelle, invited the NTEU president to their Christmas party at the White House. These were Obama’s people.
With the rank-and-file support assured, the political appointees put their game plan into action. In April 2010, according to a 2013 Inspector General (IG) report, the new IRS acting manager, Technical Unit, “suggested the need for a Sensitive Case Report on the Tea Party cases.”
In May 2010, the IRS Determinations Unit signed on, issuing a BOLO (Be On the Look Out) “for Tea Party or similar organizations.” The motives of the IRS were not hard for the inspector general to discern.
Observed the IG, “Early in Calendar Year 2010, the IRS began using inappropriate criteria to identify organizations applying for tax-exempt status to review for indications of significant political campaign intervention.” The unmistakable goal was to discourage Tea Party activists from organizing.
If the media were looking for a victim to personify abuse by the IRS – they weren’t – they could have found no better candidate than Catherine Engelbrecht. The nightmare she endured is straight out of Kafka.
A natural organizer, Engelbrecht launched two new organizations. The King Street Patriots, a classic Tea Party group, set about to enlighten citizens on economic freedom and constitutional government. The second, True the Vote, worked to prevent voter fraud.
From the perspective of the Obama White House, it was hard to say which of these two outfits presented a greater threat. To give her organizations credibility with potential donors, Engelbrecht filed for tax-exempt status in July 2010.
In December 2010, Engelbrecht received a strange request. The FBI Domestic Terrorism Unit wanted to meet with her, ostensibly to talk about an attendee at a Tea Party event. This visit would prove to be the first of six by the FBI.
Prior to the uneasy get-together with the FBI, no agents of the federal government had shown any interest in the business run by Engelbrecht and her husband going back 20 years.
In January 2011, the IRS descended on the Engelbrechts’ shop to audit both their personal and business returns. In March 2011, the IRS began a deep probe into True the Vote. A few months later, the IRS was back asking more questions.
In February 2012, the IRS put Engelbrecht and True the Vote through the ringer for a third time. Its agents demanded to see all her tweets and Facebook posts.
As Engelbrecht testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee in February 2014, the IRS also wanted to know “the names of groups that I had spoken with, the content of what I had said and every word I intended to speak in the coming year.” The IRS started hounding the King Street Patriots as well.
The feds were just warming up. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) suddenly took an interest in the Engelbrechts under the pretext that their business had a permit to manufacture gun components.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) took the next swat at the Engelbrecht piñata, and the agency walked away with $17,500 in prize money disguised as fines.
At the outset, Engelbrecht had been told it would take four or five months for her organizations to be approved for 501(c)(3) status. Two years later, with approval still pending, two years during which she had endured 23 distinct audits or inquiries, Engelbrecht said, “Enough is enough. Let’s take it to them.”
She sued the IRS. “I had no real expectation or preparation for the blood sport that American politics is,” Engelbrecht would tell a congressional committee in 2014. “It’s all been a through-the-looking-glass experience.”
Although the harassment of Engelbrecht was extreme, the targeting was not exceptional. The IRS stalled or rejected the applicants of hundreds, if not thousands, of comparable groups.
In concluding her testimony, Engelbrecht asked Congress “to end this ugly chapter of political intimidation. There was a time when people of good will were encouraged to participate in the processes of government, not targeted because of it.”
Finally, in June 2019, after six years of IRS stalling, U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton ruled emphatically in Engelbrecht’s favor.
“To have the court come out now and say, not only did True the Vote win, but the IRS has to pay a premium because of the way that they handled this whole process, is just incredibly vindicating,” Engelbrecht told Virginia Allen of the Daily Signal.
Taibbi’s old friends in the major media ignored the vindication. Hell, they ignored the whole story, just as they will Taibbi’s trial by fire.
Jack Cashill’s latest book, “Untenable: The True Story of White Ethnic Flight from America’s Cities,” is now available for pre-sale.
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