Michael Gaynor
Why does Rep. Cummings want House investigation of IRS scandal to stop before Catherine Engelbrecht testifies?
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By Michael Gaynor
June 18, 2013

Is Cummings dreading the thought of Engelbrecht testifying before the House Oversight Committee?

Radical Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-Md), ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, declared on State of the Union with respect to the IRS scandal, "Based upon everything I've seen the case is solved. If it were me, I would wrap this case up and move on to be frank with you."

Even CNN's Candy Crowley, best known for throwing a then much needed lifeline to President Obama during the second of the 2012 presidential debates, was astonished since the person who wrote the be on the lookout (BOLO) to target tea party groups had not even been identified.

Jay Sekulow, an attorney representing more than twenty conservative groups that were targeted by the IRS in a class-action lawsuit brought by the American Center for Law and Justice, curtly dismissed Cummings' politically convenient claim that the investigation of IRS targeting of President Obama's political opponents should be wrapped up, stating "That's ridiculous. [Cummings' claim] is nonsense. We know that Lois Lerner was sending letters to tea party groups from Washington. We know that at least four different [IRS] offices were involved, according to our documentation. Other IRS employees are saying that Washington was involved" (http://dailycaller.com/2013/06/13/chief-counsel-in-lawsuit-against-irs-top-democrat-cummings-claim-is- ridiculous/#ixzz2WQ9SRmrq).

Sekulow is obviously right, so why did Cummings move to shut down the investigation?

Could it be that HE will be embarrassed – or worse, publicly shown to have targeted True the Vote, the election integrity organization whose 501(c)(3) tax status application has been pending for nearly three years, because people like Cummings want to suppress True the Vote?

On October 18, 2012, Politico reported that Cummings had "sent two letters to [True the Vote] seeking 'specific documents about the manner in which True the Vote and its affiliated organizations have been challenging the registration of thousands of voters across the country based on insufficient, inaccurate and faulty evidence'" (www.politico.com/news/stories/1012/82584.html#ixzz2WQ81dtuR).

What do Cummings and Politico apparently consider a request for "specific documents"?

Cummings closed his letter of October 4, 2012 to True the Vote founder and president Catherine Engelbrecht this way:

"I request that you provide the following information and documents:

1. a list of all individual voter registration challenges by state, county, and precinct submitted to governmental election entities, including correspondence and determinations by election officials relating to each challenge;

2. copies of all letters sent to states, counties, or other entities alleging non-compliance with the National Voter Registration Act for failing to conduct voter registration list maintenance prior to the November elections;

3. a list of voter registration rolls by state, county, and precinct that True the Vote is currently reviewing for potential challenges;

4. copies of all training materials used for volunteers, affiliates, or other entities;

5. copies of computer programs, research software, and databases used by True the Vote to review voter registration;

6. all contracts, agreements, and memoranda of understanding between True the Vote and affiliates or other entities relating to the terms of use of True the Vote research software and databases;

7. a list all organizations and volunteer groups that currently have access to True the Vote computer programs, research software, and databases; and 8. a list of vendors of voter information, voter registration lists, and other databases used by True the Vote, its volunteers, and its affiliates.

"Please provide these documents by October 14, 2012. Thank you for your attention to this matter."

An impossible and expensive task to be completed in less than 10 days, but a clever way to grind True the Vote activities to a halt if it had tried to comply with Cummings' personal wish list.

Now it is fair to ask whether Cummings had coordinated with the IRS minions who sent onerous and improper information and document requests to True the Vote in an apparent attempt to justify delaying decision on True the Vote's application, thereby hampering True the Vote's fund raising efforts (for example, it had to return a $35,000 contribution because it had not received application approval), and to keep it so busy with such requests that it did not have time to pursue its purposes before Election Day 2012?

Engelbrecht wisely responded to Cummings' request by offering to meet with him in Washington D.C. to explain the mission of True the Vote and to address his concerns, stating:

"I believe we agree on many common goals, such as the right of every American to have the opportunity to participate in a fair and legal electoral process. It was of great concern to me that you had suddenly requested a considerable amount of documentation on the basis of news reports which offered limited balance and an over-simplification of the facts. I find it regrettable that your office did not reach out to True The Vote directly before launching a personal ad-hoc investigation. Election integrity is a serious concern across the nation – the state of Maryland is no exception. In this year alone, as reported by The Washington Post, a federal congressional candidate seeking to join Maryland's Congressional Delegation was forced to resign from her race by Democratic Party officials after alleged felony double voting was uncovered in her voting history."

Engelbrecht wryly added: "It is both obvious and unfortunate that you are not familiar with all of the details of the mission or methods of True the Vote. This letter serves as an effort to coordinate a convenient meeting time in your Washington, D.C. office, during which I can brief you and your staff about our program and help dispel any misconceptions you may have. In the interim, if you anticipate making any future comments about True the Vote, please do not hesitate to contact me directly so that I may provide you with accurate information. As always, you are welcome to join an upcoming training session before Election Day."

Obviously frustrated, Cummings responded with an ultimatum in an October 18 letter agreeing to meet only if True the Vote turned over his requested documents to "Congress" and once again proceeded to demand even more documents.

Cummings: "On October 4, 2012, I sent you a letter requesting specific documents about the manner in which True the Vote and its affiliated organizations have been challenging the registration of thousands of legitimate voters across the country based on insufficient, inaccurate, and faulty evidence. I requested these documents by October 14, 2012. To date, you have not produced a single document. Instead, you responded by claiming that my request was based on 'an over-simplification of the facts' and 'second-hand knowledge or poor staff-researched understanding of our organization's activities.' Rather than providing any documents that would shed light on your organization's activities, you attacked election officials in Ohio and Wisconsin for not doing their jobs. Rather than providing any documents that would bring greater transparency to these efforts – a goal you claim you share – you offered only to meet with me to 'dispel any misconceptions.' I accept your offer to come to Washington to answer these allegations, but only after you provide the documents I requested."

Cummings added; "In addition to documents relating to your efforts to challenge legitimate voter registrations, today I am also requesting documents relating to your plan to deploy hundreds of thousands of personnel across the country on Election Day to challenge access to the polls for people you believe should not be allowed to vote."

Townhall's Katie Pavlich offered perspective: "Despite what Cummings implied in his letter, True the Vote doesn't have an obligation to 'produce a single document.' Cummings is in the minority, lacks subpoena power and has no authority to force True the Vote to hand over anything and therefore, he is resorting to intimidation tactics against True the Vote, its leadership and its members as a result. He is abusing his power on the Oversight Committee by using these tactics, implying he has more power on the Committee than he actually does and is misrepresenting the committee headed not by him, but Chairman Darrell Issa."

Cummings then went on MSNBC to attack True the Vote and True the Vote responded with this press release:

TRUE THE VOTE CHARGES REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS WITH DEFAMATION PER SE

Election integrity organization demands retraction about misstatements made by Rep. Cummings on national television

HOUSTON, TX. October 29, 2012 True the Vote (TTV), the nonpartisan election integrity organization, today formally demanded that Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings retract a series of false statements made about the group repeatedly by him last week on the cable news network, MSNBC.

The October 29, 2012 letter from True the Vote's attorney, Brock Akers stated, "We are shocked at your comments on 'The Ed Show' of MSNBC, which you either know not to be true or have done nothing to assure their accuracy. We had higher hopes for you as an otherwise respected Member of Congress."

Akers continued, "Each and every one of these allegations is categorically false, has no basis in truth, and is not anything...other than a conjured allegation of some individual seeking to distort reality. This defamation per se is shameful. Without so much as the common courtesy to meet with Ms. Engelbrecht, where you could have quickly learned how off track your allegations are and have been, you instead go on national television and call this group names and cast them in the most unflattering light possible."

True the Vote continues to offer to meet in order to brief Rep. Cummings and his staff, yet demands a full and public retraction of recent false statements on MSNBC.

The letter has been made available for viewing here.

True The Vote (TTV) a nonpartisan, nonprofit grassroots organization focused on preserving election integrity is operated by citizens for citizens, to inspire and equip volunteers for involvement at every stage of our electoral process. TTV empowers organizations and individuals across the nation to actively protect the rights of legitimate voters, regardless of their political party affiliation. For more information, please visit www.truethevote.org.

Now that the targeting of True the Vote and Engelbrecht is public knowledge – see, e.g., "Why You Should Care That The U.S. Government Has Targeted Catherine Engelbrecht And Her Organizations" (www.forbes.com/sites/larrybell/2013/05/30/why-you-should-care-that-the-u-s- government-has-targeted-catherine-engelbrecht-and-her-organizations/) and "Why did the Obama administration target Catherine Engelbrecht personally?" (www.renewamerica.com/columns/gaynor/130603), it makes sense that Cummings would dread the thought of Engelbrecht testifying before the House Oversight Committee.

In "The Left's War on True the Vote and Catherine Engelbrecht: Where It All Began" (http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2012/11/01/The-Left-s-War-on- True-the-Vote-and-Catherine-Engelbrecht-Where-It-All-Began), Brandon Darby reported that True the Vote's "crime" was "[finding]irregularities in Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson Lee's turf and an ACORN affiliated group – and [telling] on them" and that "[t]he left-of-center effort to hide the irregularities of our nation's many 'ACORNs' and 'Sheila Jackson Lees' has grown into involving," among others named, Cummings, one of the 75 House Democrats who voted NOT to defund ACORN.

That makes perfect sense.

© Michael Gaynor

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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Michael Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member... (more)

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