Officials from the Department of Justice last fall informed the congressional sponsor of a much-heralded upcoming “tax honesty” forum that neither Justice nor the Internal Revenue Service would attend, reversing an earlier pledge to send representatives.

Further, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., allegedly failed to inform the event’s organizers that the agencies had backed out, according to Robert L. Schulz, chairman of the We The People Foundation for Constitutional Education, the driving force behind the forum.

Originally the “truth-in-taxation” hearing was scheduled for Sept. 24-25, 2001, but after the Sept. 11 terror attacks was postponed until next month.

The news comes on the heels of Bartlett’s announcement last weekend that he was canceling the forum because Schulz – whose July 2001 hunger strike initially succeeded in compelling the government to agree to participate – launched a media campaign to convince taxpayers to wait until after the February hearings to file their taxes.

However, according to Schulz, the language for his “Operation Wait to File Until the Trial” campaign was approved by Bartlett staffer Lisa Wright Jan. 11 – nine days before the campaign launched.

“I was never told about the ‘Thanksgiving letter,'” Schulz said in a letter to Bartlett, an advance copy of which was obtained by WorldNetDaily.

A Jan. 7 “Tax Notes” article, published by Warren Rojas and providing some details of the content of the government agency’s letter to Bartlett last year, “was the first time any of the three government officials who were parties to the July 20th contract with the American people had put in writing that they were reneging on their agreement,” Schulz said.

Bartlett’s office could not be reached by publication.

Assistant Attorney General Dan Bryant agreed July 20, 2001, to send a representative from the Justice Department to the tax honesty forum after being persuaded by Bartlett. Bryant and Bartlett signed a written agreement signifying their commitment, while the IRS said it would meet with Schulz only in private.

But Bryant assured Schulz of IRS’ participation. “I assure you. The IRS will be there at those meetings,” he said, according to Schulz.

“At this point,” Schulz wrote in his letter to Bartlett, “it is clear that neither DOJ nor IRS ever intended to keep their commitment to you or the American people.”

Schulz also cited an e-mail sent by Kim Herb, a legislative assistant to Rep. John Linder, R-Ga., to “district directors” Jan. 14 indicating that neither DOJ nor IRS would attend the Feb. 27-28 forum.

“Recently, it has been stated that there will be a congressional hearing on the IRS. I wanted to dispel this rumor. There will be NO hearing. I repeat, there will be no congressional hearing on the IRS in February,” the e-mail said, according to a copy obtained by WND.

“In response to a hunger strike by Mr. Robert Schulz, Congressman Roscoe Bartlett agreed to facilitate a meeting on IRS and tax topics. Accordingly, Mr. Bartlett arranged for ‘We the People’ to have a public forum on the IRS, at which time ‘We the People’ will debate such questions as the legality of the Sixteenth Amendment and the ratification process,” the e-mail continued. “However, no officials from the IRS or Justice Department will attend. Again, for emphasis, NO officials from either the IRS or Justice Department will be in attendance.”

The electronic note went on to say that the “administration believes that these questions have been sufficiently addressed, and there is a fair amount of judicial precedence on this issue to confirm that assertion …”

“I recognize and support the Bush administration’s position. We have no interest in pursuing the ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment as a viable and legitimate argument in the fundamental tax reform movement,” the Herb e-mail said.

Schulz said he received word from Wright Jan. 17 that Bartlett was canceling the forum because, the congressman said, Schulz’ “Wait to File” campaign encouraged non-payment of taxes.

“In any future statements regarding my support, please be sure that it is clear that I am supporting your constitutional rights and not that I am advocating not filing and not paying taxes,” Bartlett said.

He also said Schulz’ ad campaign was the reason DOJ and IRS had backed out.

“While I remain committed to making every effort so that you can exercise your constitutional right to get answers to your questions, your rhetoric has made it impossible for the forum to take place because the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) will not participate,” Bartlett said.

Rather than help sponsor the Feb. hearings, Bartlett reportedly will only give an “opening statement … acknowledging” the right of Schulz’ group to “petition the government …”

“I wish that you had told me then that our petition was not going to be publicly and officially answered by the government,” Schulz said in his letter.

Schulz also refuted Bartlett’s contention that the “Wait to File” ad was “misleading” and advocating non-payment of taxes. Rather, Schulz says, the ad merely encouraged taxpayers to wait for the outcome of the February forum before they filed – and if, We the People said, they still had to.

Schulz, in his letter, also told Bartlett that the “ad had nothing to do with the reluctance of DOJ and IRS to participate in the February income tax hearing.”

“We now know that their decision not to participate was put in writing to you last Thanksgiving, nearly two months before the ‘Wait to File’ campaign idea occurred to us,” Schulz wrote.

“Neither I nor [We the People] have ever advocated, supported or encouraged anyone not to pay a tax they lawfully owe or to file any tax return documents they are required by law to file,” he said. “As we both know, the purpose of these important hearings is to have the government show us the law so that all Americans may be guided by specific requirements for filing.”

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