Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, says he needs to know who has been ordering the Internal Revenue Service attacks on conservative organizations.
“The main point here is this: Someone is giving out marching orders for these agencies and these employees to do these things. The question is, who is giving out the marching orders?’ Poe said in an interview with WND.
The head of the Internal Revenue Service’s tax-exempt organizations office, Lois Lerner, appeared before a U.S. House committee Wednesday but refused to answer questions, invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Poe is particularly concerned about IRS targeting of the King Street Patriots, a tea party group founded in Houston by Catherine Engelbrecht.
The congressman compared the IRS scandal to the Fast and Furious gun-tracing scandal: “Who is the person who decided to smuggle guns to Mexico? We still don’t know.”
Poe emphasized that the IRS scandal doesn’t amount to “some rogue employee” acting on his own.
“Someone is giving these directives. ‘It wasn’t me, it wasn’t me.’ Everyone denies culpability and blames lower-level employees. But someone issued these orders, and we need to find who that is, and they need to go to jail.”
After it was discovered that state agencies with federal funding were abused to target Engelbrecht, Poe sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder. He also challenged Holder in his capacity as a member of the House Judiciary Committee.
“When I told Attorney General Holder before committee to appoint a special prosecutor to look into these issues, including the possible misuse of Texas state agencies, he told me that he would ‘mark me down as not a fan of government.’”
Poe refers to the IRS activity as “Soviet-style intimidation” and says that Holder should recuse himself immediately.
“Let a special prosecutor come in here and get to the bottom of this Soviet-style intimidation of taxpayers,” said Poe.
When asked why ignorance was seemingly accepted as a legitimate excuse for crimes committed by the federal government, Poe said Holder “should not get a pass.”
“Congress is going to get to the bottom of this. We shouldn’t have a goal except to find out what happened. Find out who did it. Crimes were committed. People who targeted a specific American for their political philosophy – this is not what we are about in America,” he said.
See Poe’s exchange in Congress:
On the issue of whether or not President Obama was culpable, Poe said: "Either the president doesn't know what's going on in his own administration, or he did know, and misled the public. I don't know which is worse."
Poe added, "Is it really a coincidence that you have multiple state and federal agencies zoning in on specific people who have never been investigated by anyone, ever?
"The motives for what is taking place are suspect; the FBI, the IRS, the ATF and OSHA pushing the legitimate power they have to investigate certain people. The focus is clearly on who these people are, and not what they have done or are doing," said Poe.
In one Texas case, members of the Clear Lake, Texas, Tea Party said the IRS demanded answers to personal questions, which were used to justify delays in the processing of a tax-status application.
Tea party officials said the IRS had asked for Facebook and Twitter records, which are publicly available, as well as a list of speakers, accompanied by their qualifications.
Of most concern for the CLTP, however, was the request to, "Explain your relationship with the King City Patriots." The IRS apparently meant the King Street Patriots.
That group recently was in the news because its founder, Engelbrecht, has faced what many believe is the most extensive IRS harassment to date.
Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, grilled IRS officials before committee last week on behalf of Engelbrecht.
See the exchange:
Sources report the IRS actually was just the first of a long list of federal agencies to target Engelbrecht.
Information obtained by WND reveals that Engelbrecht was also approached by domestic counter-terrorism agencies, with no probable cause or justification. The FBI Domestic Terrorism Unit visited Engelbrecht on five separate occasions, sources report.
Engelbrecht also founded True the Vote, a group that monitors polling locations to prevent voter fraud.
King Street Patriots was the focus of the FBI queries.
The FBI has ignored public information act requests filed by Engelbrecht over the issues and refuses to disclose authorization or probable cause. Poe, likewise, has yet to receive a response to his own inquiries about what's happening.
The first FBI visit revolved around a participant in several King Street Patriot events. Engelbrecht was asked if she knew who this person was or had seen the individual at events. Engelbrecht responded cordially that she had "seen the individual in question at several events."
Despite full cooperation, the second wave of visits soon followed.
Agencies to visit Engelbrecht's residential and business properties included the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which forced her and her husband to open their private firearms safe to examine every firearm and record serial numbers.
Reports reveal agencies in contact with Engelbrecht – including the IRS – made unscheduled and unannounced visits, shutting down the Engelbrecht family business for sometimes the entire day.
State agencies with whom Engelbrecht had never had any prior contact also approached, such as the Texas Council on Environmental Quality, which alleged it received a complaint about her business.
OSHA also made an unscheduled appearance – the first instance of an OSHA visit in 20 years of operation.
Engelbrecht spoke with WND: "The IRS employees who visited me and inspected my business were just doing their job. They were professional and cordial – just doing what they were told to do."
But she wondered, "My question is what mechanism was in place, what federal officials asked other American citizens in their capacity as federal employees to single out another American citizen because of their political views?"
Engelbrecht said she stumbled into being a whistleblower.
"I never planned to come forward. It wasn't until the IRS came back to me a second time and dates wove together, that I began to think there may be a pattern in all of this. My goal in coming forward is for Americans to understand what has occurred. We are not victims. There are laws in place to address what has been done. We are a country of laws. All it requires is for people with the courage of their convictions to stand up."