About three months after revelations first came out that the Internal Revenue Service was targeting Tea Party and other conservative non-profit groups, the targeting continues largely unabated with many of the same IRS officials doing the same kind of targeting in much the same way.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Republican Dave Camp sent a letter on August 12, 2013 to acting IRS Chief Dan Werfel complaining that an IRS agent had told Ways and Means Committee investigators that they were still being instructed to flag groups with the term “Tea Party” in their name for extra scrutiny.
According to Camp’s letter, an IRS agent told his investigators that, per their manager’s instructions, all groups with “Tea Party” in their names would immediately be sent by the IRS agent for “secondary screening,” a designation assigned by the IRS to any group it deems to be involved in political advocacy.
In the letter, Camp points out that such indiscriminate flagging of Tea Party groups amounts to nothing less than a continuation of the “be on the lookout (BOLO)” policy which caused so much controversy when it was revealed:
In a spreadsheet dated August 12, 2010 produced by the IRS to the Committee, under the heading, ‘BOLO list’, (Be on the Look Out) are instructions to refer all Tea Party organization applications to Group 7822 for secondary screening. Today, according to information obtained by the Committee, those applications are still sent to secondary screening, but now they are sent to Group 7823.
Front Page Magazine has learned that Tea Party groups are not the only groups still being targeted. The Thomas More Society has represented a number of pro-life organizations. Peter Breen is Vice President & Senior Counsel of the Thomas More Society and in an interview with Front Page Magazine, Breen said three groups have contacted his organization since the revelations in May to complain of continued harassment.
In the case of pro-life groups, Breen said, the IRS would routinely ask these groups how often they intended on holding prayer sessions in front of abortion clinics.
“There has been a real fixation on the prayer activity,” said Breen.
He said that Emerald Coast Coalition for Life, Christian Voices for Life, and Cherish Life Ministries all complained within the last three months that the IRS was holding up their tax exempt application and continuing to ask such questions as how often the group planned on praying in front of abortion clinics.
The three groups were being handled by two IRS agents, Tyrone Thomas and Ms. R. Medley, two agents that Breen said harassed other pro-life groups in the past. In all three cases, concerns were raised by IRS case worker into July 2013 over the perceived propensity to pray of the members of the group. Both Thomas and Medley work out of the same Cincinnati IRS office that has become the subject of so much controversy.
Front Page Magazine has also learned that the continued targeting of at least one pro-Israel group continues. Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the principal of Z Street, a group designed to support the Jewish State of Israel.
Marcus said that her group’s battle with the IRS is more than three years old. On October 24, 2010, Z Street sued the IRS, alleging that the group was unfairly targeted for intrusive and inappropriate questions, thus violating the group’s due process rights.
Marcus said that as a result of the suit the IRS retaliated by putting off the decision on Z Street’s non-profit status indefinitely. The decision has still not been made almost three years later, and the IRS has said it won’t issue a decision until this court case has been settled.
Z Street was back in federal court on July 18, 2013 facing off with the IRS. The IRS continued to maintain in court that the organization would not make a final decision on the group’s status until after the lawsuit was settled.
Marcus said she believes that there are other pro-Israel groups being targeted but that people are afraid to speak up because they are worried that the IRS will target them if they do.
Front Page Magazine has found evidence to corroborate that claim. In one correspondence with an unidentified pro-Israel group, the IRS agent in charge of the case, Tracy Dornette, asks the group, “Does your organization support the existence of the land of Israel? Describe your organization’s religious belief system toward the land of Israel.”
Neither question, said Marcus, should have anything to do with determining the tax exempt status of a group.
While President Obama claimed when this scandal first broke to be taking it seriously, it appears as though, for the most part, it’s business as usual for the IRS. Many of the same IRS agents who were in the middle of the targeting which became the subject of the explosive Office of Inspector General report continue to work in the same capacity, carrying on the same way at the IRS.
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