The Tea Party v. The Obama IRS

Matthew Vadum is an award-winning investigative reporter and the author of the book, "Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts Are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers."


Gadsden-Flag-at-Tea-Party-rallyThe IRS is being sued by 25 Tea Party groups in federal court over the political witch-hunt the agency has been conducting against conservative and libertarian grassroots organizations since the start of the Obama presidency.

The action comes three weeks after the Internal Revenue Service apologized to Tea Party groups and similar organizations for what it described as overzealous investigations of their requests for tax-exempt status. The White House denies directing the IRS to crack down on the groups.

Apart from Obama shills like Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo and Ezra Klein of the Washington Post, who slavishly lap up whatever propaganda the administration feeds them, not too many informed observers believe the White House. The White House position was undermined significantly when it was revealed that then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman visited the Obama White House a minimum of 157 times. “Even Attorney General Eric Holder, one of Obama’s closest allies, visited only 62 times according to the records,” a Daily Caller report noted.

Lois Lerner, the now-suspended head of the IRS division that deals with tax-exempt organizations, admitted the agency had singled out nonprofit applicants for tax-exempt status that had “Tea Party” or “patriot” in their names. Going after those groups was “absolutely inappropriate and not the way we should do things.” Last week Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in congressional testimony about the affair. Congressional leaders say she will be recalled for further testimony.

Of course the IRS is only doing what left-wing lawmakers like Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mt.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) pressured it to do. The Obama administration’s desire to hurt Tea Party groups appears to grow out of the Left’s sick obsession with the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC. That decision recognized that business corporations have political free speech rights and allowed them to spent money on ads urging the election or defeat of specific political candidates. Left-wingers were horrified at how many new Tea Party-related nonprofits sprouted up in light of the decision and have been angrily pulling their hair out ever since, plotting to take away those groups’ free speech rights.

The new 29-page lawsuit, filed by the American Center for Law and Justice, a public interest law firm, asks the court to find that the Obama administration overstepped its authority and in the process violated the free speech and equal protection rights of the groups, along with federal law and the tax agency’s own rules and regulations. The suit also seeks monetary damages and to protect the groups from future retaliation by the IRS.

“The IRS and the federal government are not going to get away with this unlawful targeting of conservative groups,” said Jay Sekulow, the ACLJ’s chief counsel.

“As this unconstitutional scheme continues even today, the only way to stop this flagrant and arrogant abuse of our clients’ rights is to file a federal lawsuit, which we have done. The lawsuit sends a very powerful message to the IRS and the Obama Administration – including the White House: Americans are not going to be bullied and intimidated by our government. They will not be subjected to unconstitutional treatment and unlawfully singled out and punished because of their ideological beliefs. Those responsible for this unprecedented intimidation ploy must be held accountable.”

Among the plaintiffs are: Albuquerque Tea Party Inc.; American Patriots Against Government Excess (Ohio); Hawaii Tea Party; Kentucky 9/12 Project Inc.; Laurens County Tea Party (South Carolina); Linchpins of Liberty (Tennessee); OKC PIA Association (Oklahoma); Shelby County Liberty Group (Ohio); Unite in Action Inc. (Michigan); and Wetumpka Tea Party Inc. (Alabama).

This is not the first lawsuit from a Tea Party group mistreated by the Obama IRS.

Colfax, California-based NorCal Tea Party launched a lawsuit against the IRS on May 20.

True the Vote, which fights for electoral integrity, filed suit against the IRS in federal court May 21. (Read the complaint here.)

The group aspires to teach 1 million poll workers across America to identify election fraud.

Based in Houston, Texas, True the Vote sought 501c3 nonprofit status under the federal tax code early in 2010. It has yet to receive the determination from the IRS. Soon after applying, multiple federal agencies began investigating the group, along with the family businesses of founder Catherine Engelbrecht.

IRS agents “came to a small family farm, counted the cattle, looked at the fence line,” she explained.

Early last year, the IRS sent True the Vote a 10-page letter that contained 39 questions including a demand for “all of your activity on Facebook and Twitter.” The tax-collection agency went on a fishing expedition.

“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.”

True the Vote attorney Cleta Mitchell said she will demand accountability from the IRS. “We are going to find out through the process of discovery in this lawsuit exactly what the IRS was doing, who was doing it, why they were doing it,” she said.

Lerner was reportedly served with the True the Vote lawsuit at her home in affluent Bethesda, Maryland yesterday.

Evidence is emerging that the IRS isn’t only going after limited-government groups on the political Right. It is also carrying out a harassment campaign against pro-life organizations.

Sue Martinek of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, told McClatchy News that the IRS approved tax-exempt status for her group, Coalition for Life of Iowa, in 2009, but attached an unusual condition.

The IRS official said members of her group’s board had to sign a letter promising not to picket Planned Parenthood offices. “We were pretty surprised. But we had never gone through the process before,” Martinek said. “I was sort of, ‘If we have to, we have to, but this doesn’t seem a good thing to do.’ ”

Marie McCoy, executive director of Texas-based Christian Voices for Life of Fort Bend County, said the IRS also asked her group if it planned to carry out protests. “I was quite surprised to see that our application wasn’t just immediately accepted,” she said.

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  • Indioviejo

    I am glad to see some Americans defending our rights and freedoms. The silent majority are truly silent on our government's excesses. We are living under a left wing tyranny and the longer they are unopposed, the easier it gets for them to extend their fascist tentacles,and the harder it will be for the little guy to be free. We already know what is in the hearts and minds of these left wing extremist; RESENTMENT against society and the people who won't conform to collectivism. GO TEA PARTY PATRIOTS !

  • Asher

    The Teaparties stand for honesty, reverence, sincerity, moderation, hard work, courage, personal responsibility, gratitude, hope, thrift, humility, charity, less government, and the Constitution. They have been right all along on promoting a better government for the people, and of course were targetted by the vendetta on the left to destroy Conservative values and America. The government should work for the betterment of the people, not the destruction!

    • Lanie

      You listed all of the reasons the left wants to destroy the supporters of the tea parties as the left stands for the opposite of them all. However, the government has not worked for the betterment of the people but for the betterment of its members for many, many decades. The American people have allowed governments to grow and take more control over every aspect of their lives and have allowed taxpayer funded government schools teach their children to despise all of the virtues and principles upon which a nation of free people need to prosper, thrive and survive.

  • http://www.adinakutnicki.com AdinaK

    IRSgate is more about total transformation than anything else. And by abusing the IRS's mandate Obama Inc. sought to tip the electoral outcome, plus ensure that ObamaCare invaded every aspect of American life, chiefly through the IRS's purview. This will lead to the most invasive action, bar none. Therefore, the stakes are such that nothing is off the table – http://adinakutnicki.com/2013/05/29/irsgate-obama

    Their mask has been unveiled, now we await the verdict. Patriots, remain hyper vigilant!

    Adina Kutnicki, Israel http://adinakutnicki.com/about/

  • Johnconrad

    The IRS is basically a subsidiary of Obama For America

    • Toa

      They are, indeed. Referring to them as "the Obama IRS" is a little troublesome to me, because they are really no different now than they've ever been. Their head pencil-neck visited the White House ONCE in 8 years of GWB's Presidency, as opposed to 158 times in the last 4+ years.
      Just that right there says it all about our "politically neutral" IRS.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

    Big brother is here.
    And he's pretty pushy….

    • WilliamJamesWard

      If the Congress plays this into more and more time delaying interviews rather than
      serious information gathering it will fade in the wake of more government intrusion
      and control of our daily lives. I no longer have any trust in our government and
      see it as destroying life in America. As one of the employers I want to fire all of
      the professional politicians and free America from encroaching, overwhelming
      and unconstitutional conduct. America seems to be coming undone on all
      levels of life……………………….William

  • http://www.clarespark.com clarespark

    Equality before the law is the chief tenet of a democratic republic, yet this administration laughs at this modern innovation, the pride of the world. I wrote about a surprising and lamentable turn toward "the Middle Ages" among some "conservative" commentators. http://clarespark.com/2013/05/30/nostalgia-for-th…. "Nostalgia for the Middle Ages." Do conservatives really want to go there?

    • http://www.okcteaparty.org Mark Ward

      I have a "conservative" friend who has advocated a return to the "Middle Age" construct where (Catholic/Universal) Church authority reigned. He mildly scolded me for referring to that period as the "Dark Ages". On talking with him further, he thoroughly disdains the Protestant Reformation and considers the whole thing (and their adherents) heretical. Yet, he has a Phd in one of biological sciences. It's as if the invention of the printing press, translation of the Bible into the local vernacular (a crime for which people were killed — Wycliffe, Tyndall), and (temporary, apparently) physical defeat of the Muslims, and opening of the "New World" were so many speed bumps or just a diversion from a (his) desired Middle Age political schema and seeming lack of ambiguity.

      • http://www.clarespark.com clarespark

        Thanks for this! Interesting that you cite “ambiguity” as a disturbing state of mind for some who want a return to the Middle Ages. I mentioned ambivalence in both Herman Melville and Victor Hugo as they contemplated the modern world and their divided selves.

  • Lanie

    Americans have turned a blind eye and have been apathetic and complacent and in some cases, accepted the corruption, lies and criminal activity of our political class which exists in both parties. So what should we expect? Corruption and lies simply proliferate when no one cares and thus no one is ever held accountable. Americans seem to think reality is fantasy and fantasy is reality which is exactly how the left likes it. So please don’t expect anything to change because it truth is all of our institutions are filled with corrupt, lying, greedy, criminals who know they have nothing to lose and everything to gain by a complicit populace who can’t bear the truth.

  • tagalog

    Understanding that, on a bipartisan basis, all political systems (including this one) eventually lead to corruption and the unacceptable concentration of power to the point of tyranny, as evidenced by scandal after scandal for the past 30 or 40 years, it's very difficult for me to tolerate what strikes me as the delusional belief that government can solve large-scale problems except with regard to building bridges and highways and running the mail. And of course the U.S. Mail is in trouble, as is our fraying infrastructure of rails, dams, and bridges.

    Why would anyone in his or her right mind look to government to take care of large-scale problems?

    • Stephen_Brady

      Completely right …

      "Looking to government" for solutions merely empowers government, all the more. Every bit of power the government accumulates deprives individuals of their own rights.

      • WilliamJamesWard

        Consider new laws creating scenic areas, scenic highways and byways with committees
        created to enforce regulation of the land, land mostly in private ownership. Leftists flock
        to this subversive imposition and obfuscate in new land use laws that deny the owner
        of the ability to fulfill thier own hopes and abuse abounds. Laws like Scenic Act seem
        on the surface benign but are measures that take away freedom, imagine slavery
        brought in by the pansy act………………………….William

  • pagegl

    Is there any way the persons responsible for the IRS actions can be brought up on criminal charges? Even if the courts find for the targeted organizations, those responsible won't face any real sanction. If they walk there will be no real deterrent for future scum buckets. Anyone in a government position that violates law to deprive individuals of their Constitutionally protected rights should face the harshest punishment.

  • http://shugartpoliticalaction.shugartmedia.com/uncommonsense/ Chris_Shugart

    I hope no one is too surprised at these recent revelations. The behavior from the Left is completely predictable. Yet GOP and conservative voters along with the GOP party can't make a concerted effort to defeat what is certain treachery. I would in no more blame Dems, liberals, and a corrupt IRS for what they do than I would a rattlesnake. They are what they are and they do what they do. When will we learn?

  • gee59

    And the President claims that we don't need a Special Prosecutor.

    That means to me we MUST HAVE a Special Prosecutor. In fact several because this President is out of control and needs to answer for a lot of crimes

  • Maxie

    The IRS is Obysmal's KGB soon to blend with Hitler's SA (Sturmabteilung) Storm Troopers. A "Transformed America" indeed.

    • gerry

      The KGB had rules and Russia is not as corrupt as the USA which is seen around the world as the most corrupt country on Earth.Corruption,scandal,voters'fraud etc etc this is what we hear on a daily basis.

      • Stephen_Brady

        Ever been outside the US, Gerry? If you had, you would know that America is just learning how to be corrupt. The rest of the world is teaching us.

  • http://twitter.com/tk89123 @tk89123

    White House petition to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the #IRS @ http://wh.gov/SOhF If you agree, please sign the petition and re-post to your social sites.

  • tanstaafl

    Flat tax.

    • Stephen_Brady

      In the short run, I agree. Then …

      No tax, and the IRS is disbanded. That will deprive the Federal government of about 40% of its revenue. Numerous agencies could then be done away with. The Feds grow smaller, and individuals gain back their individual liberties, in the process.

      • AnOrdinaryMan

        Yes, but how would this be achieved? IRS disbanded–it ain't never going to happen. Reagan came the closest to making the Federal government smaller. He fired the air traffic controllers, and eliminated ONE Federal program–a small one. He also reduced the rate of Federal spending. But that was IT. There was a lot of talk about eliminating the Dept. of Education, and the Dept. of Energy, but neither occurred. If Reagan didn't eliminated the Dept. of Education, how is the IRS to be disbanded? Nice pipe dream.

        • Stephen_Brady

          Step One is identifying the problem, which is the size, power, and intrusiveness of the Federal government. About this, almost no conservative would disagree. Then, there most be built among the American people a consensus that changes, including an end to the income tax and deep cuts in the Feds must be made.

          After the consensus arrives, then it's a matter of politics, and of course, Constitutional amendments. That's the real Joker in the deck, isn't it? How to make this last part happen …

    • WilliamJamesWard

      We are being flattened by tax, flatten back is appropriate……………..William

  • Brujo Blanco

    IRS combined with voter fraud has and will change.the results.of an election. The IRS has become the storm troopers of the democrat party. Flat tax may be the only viable solution. The IRS will not change overnight. In fact it may take years and another election to eradicate the corruption.

  • Stephen_Brady

    One hundred fifty-seven visits to the White House, by an IRS commissioner …

    However, the President is supposed to pick competent people to head agencies of the federal government, so that he can be freed from the need to meet with them, over and over. So what was Douglas Schulman doing with Obama, on those 157 visits to the White House? Playing Chess? Checkers? Poker?

    The only logical reason for this is that Schulman was consulting with Obama about violating the rights of what Obama regards as his enemies … the rightwing …. and that they didn't want a record of their meetings. And this brings to mind the culpability of Obama, himself, in the IRS excesses.

    Impeachment-level offenses? I would think so …

    • WilliamJamesWard

      You think correctly Stephen, the Obama gamers turn the use of government to attain
      ends never intended as acceptable conduct, perversion of the system is no problem
      to leftists. Obama & Co. will slip up and be exposed, I wonder how many of the ongoing
      scandals are smoke screens to hide the theft of trillions of dollars…..will there ever be
      a true accounting or will we always wonder where the money went………………..William

    • tagalog

      Whoever asked the question that got the flip answer about attending the White House Easter Egg Hunt with his kids, might have used that figure of 157 visits to ask: if you assume that 1/2 of the visits were about the IRS running the Affordable Health Care Act and one visit was for the egg hunt, why was the IRS commissioner going to the White House in the other 77 visits?

  • gee59

    The IRS targeted anybody that disagreed with the administration and/or their policies. That includes Tea Party, Conservatives, pro-lifers and pro-Israel.

    This is wide spread and involves hundreds of organizations not just the 25 listed

  • κατεργάζομαι

    FEAR NOT AMERICA!

    Speaker John Boehner, and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell are going to gum this dad burn thing to literal bits, …..at their earliest convenience. –

    Just as the toothless GOP Leadership-wonders are they!

    • WilliamJamesWard

      How great our predicament is when those who we trust are elected into office and are
      in concert with those elected we do not trust and for good reason. I still see our government
      made up of Democrats and Republicans as the two sides of a counterfeit coin put in
      our machine as a slug that works but without value……………..William

  • http://twitter.com/roy_wr @roy_wr

    The IRS is out of control and has been for many years. I noticed that President Obama Non-Profit application went right thru. I hope the Tea Parties win their lawsuits. We need to get rid of the IRS once and for all and go to a national sales tax or flat tax. The World War II brown shirts have returned as IRS agents.

  • http://twitter.com/quillerm @quillerm

    The IRS used the FBI to harass individuals that successfully challenged frivolous lawsuits by Lerner and other corrupt Federal employees. The investigation must be expanded to bring in FBI Agents used by the IRS in their intimidation campaign.