Recently, WorldNet Daily covered the hunger strike of tax crusader Bob Schulz. Because of his self-imposed fast, Schulz was able to garner enough support to cause the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Department Of Justice to agree to meet and answer questions which have troubled citizens for decades about the legality and authority of the federal tax system.
Less than two months from now, this historic meeting is scheduled to take place between several well-known tax activists and various government officials from the IRS and the DOJ. Cameras will be present to record the proceedings.
Today, WND staff writer and talk-show host Geoff Metcalf talks with Schulz about the events which led to this remarkable agreement and subsequent recent developments.
Metcalf’s daily streaming radio show can be heard on TalkNetDaily weekdays from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern time.
Question: I personally did not like your hunger strike approach. I wasn’t alone in fearing that you ran a very real risk of doing some irreparable physical damage to yourself. Did you really think when you started your hunger strike that it would be successful?
Answer: I knew I was going to see it through and there was some risk that the worst would happen – I knew that the government kills people – but we also know they have never, ever allowed someone to waste away, virtually on their front doorstep rather than honor its (the government’s) obligation to respond to a proper petition/redress of grievances.
Q: Please explain what it was you were asking of the government, and what precipitated your hunger strike?
A: For a couple of years, we were trying to get the government to address the questions – the constitutional and statutory questions – that go to the legal authority of the IRS to force people to pay this tax. We were just the latest to come along. Lots of folks have been raising these questions.
Q: I’ve been interviewing people about this for over 10 years – Bill Benson, Devvy Kidd, Larry Becraft, Red Beckman, Joe Banister – a long, long list.
A: Of course. And before them, there have been others. People have been raising these issues and petitioning for a redress of grievances for a long time. We learned about it in early 1999.
Q: So what did you do?
A: We did the logical thing. Our foundation scheduled a symposium – an academic symposium – where we hoped to have the government send its experts to argue against the conclusions of the Bill Bensons and Joe Banisters of the world.
Q: Basically, you were asking the government to, “Hey guys, show up and show us where we are wrong!”
A: Precisely. And that was a logical thing to do for us as a foundation that has as its mission helping people become better informed about their rights under their state and federal constitutions and how to professionally, intelligently, rationally confront governmental wrong doing.
Q: And frankly, Bob, a reasonable person would expect the federal government would be chomping at the bit to have an opportunity to de-fang and neuter the tax-honesty movement.
A: Sure. All they had to do was show up at the first academic symposium that we scheduled in July of ’99 at the National Press Club – show up and show these people the error of their ways, embarrass them, put the whole thing to bed.
Q: But they didn’t seize the opportunity.
A: No, instead, they did not even have the courtesy to acknowledge receipt of the invitation – they just totally evaded and ignored the invitation which was very respectfully drawn.
Q: Honestly, a lot of people were not at all surprised by that. I mean, they have been successful in ignoring this for a long, long time.
A: But I knew we had to play it by the book. We had to go through all these motions. So we gave them the opportunity – they chose not to respond. C-SPAN responded.
Q: Yeah, once!
A: The first time, they broadcast the event. We tried again in November of ’99 and in April of 2000 and in June of 2000 to bring the two sides together. At our expense, we flew into these conferences the tax-law researchers from the tax-honesty movement. And each time, we respectfully invited the government to send their experts and they ignored us. They evaded the issues. People are looking at this and are aware of the questions that go to the constitutionality and the authority …
Q: … And by the way, that first C-SPAN taping that got aired by mistake was the most popular requested replay that C-SPAN ever had.
A: Sure. We were told they couldn’t keep the master on the shelf – there were so many orders for that particular two-tape record of the symposium. So the next thing that we did, when we realized the government was evading these meetings, was we had a delegation of people from all over the country come to Washington. They went to Washington to support the delivery of a formal “remonstrance.” A remonstrance was a word that was used more frequently in the early days of the country than it is today. But it means a strongly-worded statement of grievances that the people submit to their government. We had drawn up a two-page strongly-worded statement of grievances to be delivered to the leaders of all three branches of government – including the judiciary because of the role the courts have played in this now 88-year-old apparent hoax.
So people gathered on April 13th and Joe Banister and I and our videographer were allowed into the White House to meet with President Clinton’s economic adviser – a fellow named Jason Furman – while the entire delegation waited outside the White House. He accepted – on tape – the remonstrance for the president and promised to have the government experts – their lawyers and historians – review the evidence and expressed agreement to meet in the next attempt to bring the two sides together.
Q: So he lied!?!?
A: Well, yeah, he reneged. A couple of months later, as we were getting ready for the June showdown between our experts and the government experts, he said in a telephone conversation June 2nd – three weeks before the event – he said, “Sorry, but we have decided here at the White House that the legality of the income tax is not a high priority for the White House and that we will not be participating in any conference on the subject.”
Q: So, what did you do in the wake of that?
A: We didn’t give up. We ran a centerfold ad in the Washington Times which included an open invitation, not only to the president to send his experts to the upcoming June 29th conference, but also an open invitation to Speaker Hastert and to then-Majority Leader Lott – and any other congressmen – to come answer the questions which we summarized in five propositions. We wanted the government to send their experts.
Q: And since it worked before, they ignored it.
A: Yes, but we went on with the June conference. But it was then that we decided: All right, we have established a record and the government has evaded these questions. We’ve reached the point where evasion equals admission – they are in effect admitting that Banister and Benson and the others are correct – so let’s bring the information, the facts out to the general public, most of whom just don’t have a clue about these issues. Let’s buy space/full-page ads in the nation’s only national newspaper, USA TODAY.
Q: And you did that. More than once, right?
A: We ran four of these at a cost of over $260,000 each and things were going pretty well until April of this year.
Q: Bob, when did you make the decision to go on a hunger strike?
A: After the events of April and early May of this year. On April 5th, the Senate Finance Committee held hearings on our ads – they had blow ups of our USA TODAY ads on easels in front of the panel and we were not allowed to testify at the hearings on our ads. In the words of the chairman of the committee, Senator Grassley, a reporter asked him why “We The People” folks were not allowed to testify at the hearing on their ads? And the chairman said, “Because their message will be tracked from the message we, the Senate Finance Committee, is trying to convey.”
Q: Huh? What does that mean? They are going to set the agenda?
A: Yeah. They decided on their message before their hearing. And we were not allowed to testify. Joe Banister came in from California, Bill Benson from Chicago and about five or six of us attended the hearing.
Q: What did you learn from the hearing?
A: We learned that the message that they wanted to convey was that anyone who raises these questions about the validity of the nation’s tax laws are, in their words, “tax cheats, schemers, scammers, and con artists”. And, of course, that is not true about any of us. Nonetheless, that is the message they wanted to sell.
Q: But again, the easiest way to demonstrate that these folks are liars, cheats, thieves, frauds and con artists, would be to appear at one of these meetings you have held and just cut you off at the knees by saying, “OK, folks, on page 227, if you take a look at sub paragraph d, it clearly states you have to do this. That is the law – period, end of text, shut up and sit down.”
A: Right. But instead, they call us names. And evade any opportunity we have presented them with to set the record straight. So that happened on April 5th. We were told we couldn’t get on the witness list of that hearing, but that if we wanted to submit a statement, they would “consider” adding it to the record. We did! We submitted a comprehensive statement, which they never added to the record. A horrible example of governance in America today.
Q: What happened next?
A: On April 9th, hundreds of people from all over the country paid their own way and appeared on the sidewalk in front of the IRS headquarters building at 1111 Constitution Avenue on April 9th. Three weeks earlier, we had very respectfully written to the Commissioner of the IRS, Charles Rossotti, letting him know we were going to be there – and asking him, respectfully, to address the people. And if he couldn’t let us know what the agency’s position was on these issues, at the very least, let us know when his experts would be available to meet with the experts from the tax-honesty movement.
Q: That must drive them crazy – that you were being so reasonable and accommodating.
A: Well, we told them we would be outside at 11:30 a.m. – we would have a podium for them and portable speaker system – and 11:30 came and went and he never came out. He was in the building. We learned because of a New York Times article, which was published a few days later, that he had arranged an interview with the New York Times for the precise moment we were expecting him outside. The article read, “While a few protesters …” – of course, there were a whole lot more than a “few” – “While a few protesters gathered outside on a warm April day, IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti was cool and relaxed at his desk, reflecting on his first three and half years in office.”
So, we got our answer from the IRS Commissioner – it was just a slap along side the head, it was an insult. That happened on April 9th. Two days later, on April 11th, we heard from USA TODAY that they were not going to run any more of our ads.
Q: They didn’t want your money?
A: And, yet, they were in financial difficulty. But, they were not going to run any more of our ads. So we asked, why is that? And they said, “Because Gannett’s legal department had been talking to the tax people …” – obviously the IRS – “and determined that we were advocating that people break the law.”
Q: I read the ads. They didn’t say that.
A: Sure. And we said to them, “Now that’s interesting – that’s the whole point. Where is the law? Where is the authority that the government has to impose this tax, this income tax, on the citizens of this country? Show us the law! Maybe your legal department can do what the government has been unwilling or unable to do to date and that is show us the law – show us the legal authority that the IRS has to force people to pay this tax.” I said to Katie Emory, who was the advertising rep we had been dealing with, who had been taking our money, “Why don’t I come down there and talk to your legal department?” She said, “Great idea! I’ll set it up!”
Q: Hey, she’s looking at a commission on over $260,000 and praying.
A: So I went down to Arlington, Virginia, which is where they are headquartered, and they wouldn’t see me. They did not want to talk. So, I said, “I need something in writing. I want to understand why you are treating us, and our money, differently than you treat other members of the public who want to advertise in your newspaper.”
Q: Did they provide anything in writing?
A: Finally, I was able to get from them a single one-sentence paragraph that said, “The ads could be misleading.” Which is a lot of nonsense. That happened on April 11th. On May 2nd, Nick Jesson, his business and his home, were raided by more than two dozen agents, with pistols drawn, firearms pointed at the heads of people.
Q: Now these were California Franchise Tax Board Agents. They were not IRS agents.
A: That’s right. When we were at the hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, not only were they sending a message that people who raise these questions are tax cheats and so forth, but the senators said to the IRS Commissioner who was on the panel before them, “Can’t you send a chilling message – can’t you drive some fear into people that they have to pay these taxes or they are going to be dealt with harshly and swiftly and so forth.
Q: That was on April 5th, right?
A: Right – 10 days before the traditional tax due date of April 15th.
Q: And, frankly, almost routinely, around that time of the year, they usually do have someone they try to make an example of.
A: Right. And so the “chilling message” that they sent on May 2nd was to raid the business and the home of Nick Jesson – whose photo and name were featured in one of our USA TODAY ads as one of five employers who had stopped withholding the income tax from the paychecks of their employees after years of petitioning the government for redress of grievances, going to their congressmen, going to the IRS, asking these questions and getting no answers.
Q: So your “We The People” group has gone through all this exercise of trying to get answers from the government about these tax questions – the government kept ignoring you, ignoring you, ignoring you – you eventually went on this hunger strike that lasted three weeks. Then, eventually, the government rolled over. What was it the government first said when they approached you after your three weeks of the hunger strike?
A: Initially, when folks like Julie Foster with WorldNetDaily questioned whether they would respond, the folks at the IRS said, “Probably not.” Their position was, there is no validity to any of these questions – the kinds of things they normally say. As time went on, we got word from Floyd Williams, the director of Congressional and Legislative Affairs for the IRS – I received a telephone call on the 19th of July that their chief counsel and their lawyers would meet with me – but in a private meeting with no recording and no public record of the meeting.
Q: How on earth do they even try to defend that? They know all along that what you have primarily been doing is disseminating information. Why would they agree to meet with you only under the condition that it be “in secret”?
A: Well, what they tried to say – get away with (but I wasn’t having any of it) – was it was their policy that when taxpayers came in with grievances those meetings require privacy. I told them, “Listen, I’m not a taxpayer with a grievance. What we have here is a petition for a redress of grievances that is a very public matter involving great public importance and interests. And I’m not asking for privacy. I find it totally unacceptable.”
Q: Sunlight is the best disinfectant!
A: Of course. So I reported back to Roscoe Bartlett – the congressman from Maryland who took up the cause and who was just as passionate as we were for liberty and for our right to petition the government for a redress of grievances and government’s obligation to respond – he called Floyd Williams and told him it was totally unacceptable and said that he, Bartlett, was going to call Rossotti, the IRS Commissioner. Normally, congressmen deal with the office of congressional affairs at these departments. That is their point of contact. If they don’t get results they are looking for, I guess they just go up the chain of command.
Q: And did he?
A: He did. He called Rossotti twice and they spoke and, eventually, Rossotti agreed to a public meeting – a videotaped public meeting.
But I had agreed with Floyd Williams that the Department of Justice was probably the better party to answer the questions surrounding the first three of our propositions, and that the IRS was the proper party to respond to the questions surrounding the remaining two propositions. Because of that agreement, Congressman Roscoe Bartlett called the Department of Justice and asked them to have their experts meet with him and us in a public meeting in September. So we eventually, with his help, got the IRS and Justice to agree to meet and answer our questions in a public forum with their videographers present and our videographers present. And Justice said they would provide a transcript – a stenographic record of the hearing – which will last at least two days, maybe three.
Q: That’s going to be in September right?
Q: Same deal as the previous events? At the National Press Club?
A: No. Justice said they were very concerned – they wanted appropriate controls. They did not want it turning into a circus-type atmosphere. They did not want hecklers and people walking in off the street and so forth. Bartlett said to them, the most controlled environment we have is on the Hill. Why don’t we have this citizen hearing at the Capitol? And they agreed and, of course, we agreed as well.
Q: So the government apparently is now ready to answer the questions of Bill Benson, Joe Banister, et al. Just recently, there was a story about the California Board of Equalization finalizing a formal opinion apparently designed to shoot down a lot of the arguments you folks raise. Is that going to have any significant impact?
A: I read Julie Foster’s piece in WorldNet Daily and I don’t know – I have a lot of questions. First, I wasn’t familiar with this group but Julie describes the Board of Equalization as a popularly elected board.
Q: Yes, they are.
A: Who are these people? Are they attorneys? Is this an administrative court? Is this a court of competent jurisdiction? It sounds like it is an administrative agency.
Q: What struck me when I read the piece is the Board can debunk everything arbitrarily and capriciously if they want. However they are a California agency and the questions you are addressing are national in scope.
A: I don’t know much about California law. If they are like New York and other states the law says, if you’re liable for the filing of a federal income tax return or the payment of a federal income tax, then you owe us.
Q: Julie mentioned that it would now be a citable legal precedent for future cases. But, so what? That is then subject to appeals and chucked up the line – and if there isn’t documentation to corroborate the government’s position, arguably it would be overturned on appeal. But what do you expect to happen in September?
A: I’m very familiar with all of the questions surrounding the five propositions.
Q: Who gets to testify?
A: We bring in anyone we want to bring in as questioners or as witnesses. We recently had a conference call with 26 people around the country. We will all be gathering soon and will be planning the strategy and coming up with the questions to be asked, the order in which we will be asking them and we will be establishing the lines of inquiry.
Q: Are you going to be asking the questions of the government representatives?
A: Yeah. Both the IRS and DOJ will send their experts to answer our questions. We’re going to ask a question. We’ll get an answer. Then we will reply to their response and they will have an opportunity to respond, as will we.
Q: Hold on a moment, because I am always interested in “the process.” Are they trying to fast-track this? Is there a fixed time to how long you can ask questions and how long they can respond?
A: No. It’s going to be at least two days – maybe three. And that ought to be sufficient time for us to ask all the questions that we want to ask – get a response and reply to the response. Now, to speed things along, to facilitate the proceeding, we are going to provide them with the first-tier questions a week or two ahead of time. We will provide them with the first-tier questions, but obviously not the second- and third-tier questions because we don’t know what their responses will be. Also, we will provide them at that time with a list of the people that we will have there.
Q: Let me guess at the list: Bill Benson, Joe Banister, Conklin, Becraft – who else?
A: Red Beckman – all of the prominent tax law researchers that have done most of the work over the years. Steve Hempling, Harold Thomas, John Feld, Devvy Kidd, Tupper Saussy, Vern Holland, Dave Bossett, Gordon Philips, Wayne Benston – a whole series of attorneys: Robert Bernhoff, Ed Vieira, Larry Becraft.
Q: A “Who’s Who” list of the tax revolutionaries?
A: Yes. They will all be there and asking the questions. We’ll have teams. On the teams will be the researchers who have done the work and are quite comfortable with the evidence they have come up with but are probably not all that comfortable in a courtroom setting. Where you are asking questions and trying to hold your opponent to the point – not accepting rhetoric and that sort of stuff. So on each team, there will be at least one attorney.
Q: So the lawyers are there to handle the heavy lifting and gamesmanship issues?
A: Yeah. About six or seven attorneys will be there.
Q: I’ve got a $64,000 question: Is C-SPAN going to cover this?
A: What we have agreed to is this: I did not want the place full of cameras and reporters and shuffling around – too much of a distraction for us. This is serious stuff. Nor did the government. So we agreed we would have our videographers and they would have theirs and that C-SPAN would be given the option of broadcasting it live or taping it for later broadcast. But C-SPAN will be given the option.
Q: What is the date in September when this hearing takes place?
A: September 25th and 26th.
Q: If people want to keep track of what “We The People” is doing, where can they get additional information?
A: The best thing is to monitor our website. Everything they will need by way of background or the details or the history and how to contact us and how to help us is all described on our website or they can call us at (518) 656-3578.
Q: God bless you, Bob. I’m frankly surprised. I told Devvy Kidd (we’ve been talking a lot about this situation) that I was concerned for your health.
A: Geoff, let me say this. Surely, I was prepared to go forward with the hunger strike. But I knew that the government could not afford to allow somebody to waste away on the steps of the Capitol or at the front door of the White House, rather than answer a few questions – rather than honor its (the government’s) obligation to respond to and answer a proper petition for a redress of grievances. That would be tantamount to saying the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are empty words.
And what would that say to the people? It would be a thunderbolt, showing the people that there is nothing standing anymore between them and total tyranny and despotism. That there is no longer a rule book to limit the behavior of their government. And what would it say to the people of the world who still hold the country up as a land of freedom, and so forth – resting on the bedrock of their Constitution? They could not afford to let that happen.
Editor’s note: Late breaking update! Just prior to posting this interview, Geoff Metcalf received a telephone call advising him that Congressman Bartlett confirmed to Schulz that the final details have been agreed to and hearings will take place September 25 and 26 in the Joseph G. Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C. WorldNetDaily will continue to inform our readers of further developments in this historic meeting as they become available.
“THE LAW THAT NEVER WAS,” by Bill Benson, a two-volume set documenting the controversy surrounding the 16th Amendment, is available from WorldNetDaily’s online store.