Ron Strom is commentary editor of WND, a post he took after serving as a news editor since 2000. Prior to coming on board with WND, Strom worked in politics in California. Married and the father of two homeschool graduates, he has served in leadership positions in his church, local nonprofit boards and in county government.More ↓Less ↑
Although her congressman assured her that his staff is working on answering her 500 questions about the federal income-tax system, 52-year-old Rose Lear continues her hunger strike, saying she will not eat until she has the answers in hand.
Lear stopped eating on Ash Wednesday, March 5, and said she will not eat again, save for Holy Communion, until the government responds to a petition for redress of grievances sponsored by the “tax honesty” organization We the People, which was delivered to all 535 members of Congress last fall.
After her congressman, Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., did not respond to Lear’s request for answers and her husband was convicted – she says unjustly – of failing to file a tax return, Lear decided to start her fast. She says she is willing to die of starvation if her plea is not heeded.
She says at that meeting, Hoekstra did not address the concerns of those who petitioned the government. The thousands of Americans whose names are on the petition believe that the federal government lacks any legal jurisdiction to enforce the income tax, that there is no law that requires Americans to pay the tax, and that the tax is enforced in a manner that violates the U.S. Constitution.
Two years ago, at the request of We the People, IRS and Justice Department officials agreed to meet with WTP leader Bob Schulz to answer his questions after he went on a 20-day hunger strike. Government officials later reneged, and We the People held its own congressional-hearing style forum in Washington, D.C. At the event, several expert tax attorneys and former IRS officials testified that the income tax system is fraudulent and that most Americans are not legally required to pay. It was the record of that forum that accompanied the petition delivered to Congress.
On Monday, Lear delivered letters to Hoekstra, as well as her U.S. senators, Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, both Democrats. She also delivered copies of the letters to the headquarters of the IRS and to Attorney General John Ashcroft. She then decided to station herself in front of various congressional office buildings in D.C. at specific times every day so that representatives can contact her about responding to her concerns.
On Wednesday, Lear met with Hoekstra alone for one hour in his office. Lear described the meeting as “really good,” saying that Hoekstra agreed with her on each point she made. She told WND that Hoekstra told her: “My staff is working on all of the questions.”
“His heart’s in the right place,” Lear said.
Yesterday, however, when Schulz accompanied Lear to Hoekstra’s office, the pair picked up a different attitude from staff.
Describing Hoekstra chief of staff John Van Fossen as “abrasive and very arrogant,” Schulz said the brief encounter “was horrible.”
“Arrogant is putting it midly,” Lear said. “He attacked Bob [Schulz]. I had to nail [Van Fossen] to the wall.”
Lear reports that Van Fossen attacked We the People and that she had to explain that the organization had nothing to do with her starting the hunger strike.
“They were jerking [Lear] around,” Schulz said, “making a lot of promises to her.”
Schulz said Van Fossen told Lear to start eating and go home, saying that she could trust the congressman’s staff.
But Lear refused, saying she would stay in the nation’s capital until the questions were answered.
Schulz said Lear, at her latest meeting with Hoekstra, gave the congressman an additional eight questions that related to her husband’s conviction. According to Schulz, it is only those questions Hoekstra’s staff is working to answer – not the 500 questions contained in the petition for redress of grievances.
Lear says at her Wednesday meeting with Hoekstra, the congressman asked her what it would take to get her to eat. She replied, “Getting these questions answered under oath.”
The activist told WND that the oath was important since those who sign a tax return are required to sign it “under penalty of perjury.” She believes the same should be required of the government when addressing the income-tax issue.
We the People has been providing volunteers to assist Lear in Washington. She is now preparing a living will so that the “government cannot keep her alive” against her wishes. She also said she spoke to her imprisoned husband on the phone recently and that “he understands [the hunger strike]. He knows what I’m doing.”
John Turner, a former IRS revenue officer, recently wrote to Hoekstra asking that he provide Lear with the answers she seeks. He wrote, in part:
Earlier today I spoke with Rose. Her voice was very weak after 20 days of fasting. She cannot possibly have too many days left before something bad happens to her. While talking with her, I made several attempts to persuade her to give up the fast, to no avail. … She is determined. I don’t want to appear to be placing her fate in your hands. Rose is responsible for her own life. From talking with her she appears quite cognizant of that. However, I am appealing to you, nevertheless. You cannot control Rose but you can do better than you have thus far. …
Lear began her hunger strike weighing 100 pounds and now moves about only in a wheelchair.