Michael Gaynor
The Catherine Engelbrecht story is the key to the IRS scandal
By Michael Gaynor
June 30, 2014

Who but the White House could coordinate the IRS, OSHA, BATF and FBI?

All scandals are not equally perilous to President Obama.

Benghazigate, the Obamacare rollout and the Veterans' Administration horror involved managerial incompetence, not necessarily malice or vindictiveness.

The apparent targeting of Catherine Engelbrecht by multiple federal seems to have been malicious and vindictive as well as political.

It poses a grave threat to President Obama

The House of Representatives is still trying to get to the bottom of the IRS scandal, but unless that scandal is traced to the White House, President Obama simply will explain it away as the result of out-of-control supporters in the IRS.

The first attempt to explain away the IRS scandal as the result of the work of a low-level IRS employee in Ohio who happened to be a Republican did not put an end to the investigation (or pass the laugh test), but to date the scandal has not been traced higher than Lois Lerner, she pleaded the Fifth Amendment (after professing to be innocent) and her pertinent email has not been produced, purported because her computer crashed and was "recycled."

Supposedly the same thing happened to the email and computers of about half a dozen other IRS employees whose emailed had been subpoenaed.

One computer crash could be viewed as an unfortunate coincidence, but half a dozen appear to be a conspiracy.

To get to the bottom of the IRS scandal, we need to figure out how high up that scandal goes.

To do that, the spotlight needs to be put on the story of Catherine Engelbrecht and the question has to be asked who inspired the Internal Revenue Service, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to start investigating her.

Lois Lerner was able to stall the processing of the tax exemption applications that Engelbrecht filed on behalf of a tea party organization called King Street Patriots and a non-partisan election integrity organization called True the Vote for years, but she could not even order audits of taxpayers, much less make OSHA, BATF and FBI do her bidding.

Engelbrecht's frightening story is incredible, but true.

At a Congressional hearing, Engelbrecht modestly noted that "across this country citizens like [her] are being targeted by an administration willing to take any action to silence opposition."

True though that appears to be, Engelbrecht's story is atypical, because multiple federal agencies suddenly came knocking after she "helped found and led True the Vote and King Street Patriots."

Engelbrecht was "a wife, a mother, and small businesswoman working with [her] husband, raising [their] children and participating in [her] church and PTA" and the federal government had been "collect[ing] [her] taxes and left [her] family in peace."

That ended with a vengeance.

Plenty of conservative organizations had their tax exemption applications delayed.

Engelbrecht's treatment was unique.

Engelbrecht testified at the Congressional hearing as follows:

"Shortly after filing IRS forms to establish 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organizations, an assortment of federal entities – including law enforcement agencies and a Congressman from Maryland, Elijah Cummings – came knocking at the door. In nearlt two decades of running our small business, my husband and I have never dealt with any government agency, outside of filing our annual tax returns. We had never been audited, we had never been investigated, but all that changed upon submitting applications for the non-profit statuses of True the Vote and King Street Patriots. 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 was present....

In 2012 and again in 2013 the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms conducted comprehensive audits at my place [of] 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 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."

The key words are "interagency coordination."

Transation: The work of someone above the IRS.

Who arranged for that "interagency coordination"?

Who but someone in the White House could coordinate the IRS, OSHA, BATF and FBI?

Not Lois Lerner.

Lerner was not in a position to do that.

President Obama certainly was in a position to arrange it, but to date there is no evidence that he did. No reporter has asked him on the record about Engelbrecht's ordeal, even though it understandably kept True the Vote and King Street Patriots from exercising their constitutional rights with respect to the 2012 elections as they wanted to do.

President Obama may have been an unknowing beneficiary, but someone with clout in the White House may having been serving President Obama's political interests at the expense of the constitutional rights of Engelbrecht, True the Vote and King Street Patriots.

© 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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