Catherine Engelbrecht appeared before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Thursday bearing testimony that the IRS and other government agencies targeted her non-profit organization because it was a conservative group. Testifying with Ms. Engelbrecht was Becky Gerritson whose Tea Party group was also targeted. Two lawyers were present representing the women, Cleta Mitchell and American Center for Law and Justice's Jay Sekulow.
Ms. Engelbrecht runs a small business with her husband manufacturing small machine parts. They have owned and operated Engelbrecht Manufacturing for almost 20 years. Ms. Engelbrecht testified that during that entire 20 year span, the business was never audited or investigated and never dealt with any government agency outside of filing regular annual tax returns. That all changed once she decided to start a non-profit organization and file for tax-exempt status.
After volunteering at a Texas voting center during the 2009 presidential election, Ms. Engelbrecht says she witnessed "fundamental procedural problems" which roused a concern over the voting process. Because of this, she founded True the Vote, "a non-profit election integrity organization." The goal of the group is to help "ensure that every American voter has an opportunity to participate in elections that are free and fair."
After filing IRS tax-exempt forms 501(c)(3) and (c)(4) for True the Vote in 2010, a host of government agencies suddenly flooded her home and business including the IRS, ATF, OSHA and the FBI. This amounted to 15 visits from these four agencies over a two year time period. Is it coincidence that during almost 20 years of business the Engelbrechts were never audited or investigated by the IRS but after filing for tax-exempt status for a non-profit conservative group were audited and investigated 15 times? That is what the Oversight Committee aims to find out.
The following is part of what the Committee heard in Ms. Engelbrecht's own words from her testimony:
Since that filing in 2010, my private businesses, my nonprofit organizations, and family have been subjected to more than 15 instances of audit or inquiry by federal agencies.
In 2011, my personal and business tax returns were audited by the Internal Revenue Service, each audit going back for a number of years.
In 2012, my business was subjected to inspection by OSHA, on a select occasion when neither my husband nor I were present, and though the agency wrote that it found nothing serious or significant, it still issued fines in excess of $20,000.
In 2012 and again in 2013 the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms conducted comprehensive audits at my place business.
Beginning in 2010, the FBI contacted my nonprofit organization on six separate occasions – wanting to cull through membership manifests in conjunction with domestic terrorism cases. They eventually dropped all matters and have now redacted nearly all my files.
All of these incursions into my affairs began after filing applications for tax-exemption. There is no other remarkable event, no other reason, to explain away how for decades I went unnoticed, but now find myself on the receiving end of interagency coordination into and against all facets of my life, both public and private.
Bear in mind, distinguished ladies and gentlemen of this sub-committee, these events were occurring while the IRS was subjecting me to multiple rounds of abusive inquiries, with requests to provide every Facebook and Twitter entry I’d every posted, questions about my political aspirations, and demands to know the names of every group I’d ever made presentations to, the content of what I’d said, and where I intended to speak for the coming year. The answers to these sorts of questions are not of interest to the typical IRS analyst, but they are of great interest to a political machine that puts its own survival above the civil liberties of any private citizen.
No American citizen should be willing to accept a government that uses its power against its own people.
But know this, my experiences at the hands of this government in these last five years have made me more determined than ever to stand before you and America and say I will not retreat. I will not surrender. I refuse to be intimidated. I will not ask for permission to exercise my Constitutional rights.
There was a time when people of good will were encouraged to participate in the processes of government; not targeted because of it.
Remember, the president said there is not even a "smidgen of corruption" in the IRS; just "some boneheaded decisions."
Ms. Englebrecht is also founder of King Street Patriots, a citizen-led liberty group.
Watch the entire hearing here.