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The Internal Revenue Service already has confessed to targeting and trying to injure tea party, Constitution and patriot organizations, by demanding answers to arbitrary questions and delaying their applications for a tax status so they could operate.
Now WND has learned that the IRS also put an organization in its bull’s-eye that wanted to do nothing more than share its pro-life message with churches.
Cherish Life Ministries was created to be a non-profit under the IRS 501(c)3 provision so that churches would feel comfortable working together.
Peter Shinn founded the group, because he already was working with ProlifeUnity.com, but as it did not carry the same tax code designation as a religious institution, some churches were reluctant to hear the message from its education materials.
And even more reluctant to participate, Shinn told WND.
The mission of the ProlifeUnity group is to “save the unborn and defend the defenseless, no exceptions, no compromise.”
It organizes pickets, works through email campaigns and takes “direct action” on the dispute.
So Shinn launched Cherish Life Ministries, a separate organization, to offer help to a coalition of churches that supports mothers struggling with unexpected pregnancies, promotes abstinence and advocates for an end to abortion in the community, state and nation.
“Our goal is to assist churches, organize and support a life ministry in defense of life and help function as an outreach to people struggling with unwanted pregnancies in the local community,” the site states.
Education materials are offered.
But Shinn said the IRS contacted him regarding his application for nonprofit status, and was told he didn’t qualify.
“The representative was telling me I had to provide information on all aspects of abortion, I couldn’t just educate the church from the pro-life perspective,” he said. “Every time I pressed her on this issue and asked her to clarify her position, she would state that it wasn’t what she was saying, and then, she would repeat it almost the same way.”
The IRS agent did not respond to a WND request for comment on the ministry’s position.
But Shinn said he was accused of setting up a political organization.
“I asked her why she said we were political organization and she said it was because we had said in our application that we did less than 5 percent political activity. I explained to her that this was what was stated in the application and all we were doing was acknowledging that we were doing less than 5 percent political activity,” he said.
He said the woman then accused him of having links to political activity on his website, even though he said he did not.
“She told me … they were going to deny my application,” he told WND. “She did get nervous though in the end when I pressed her that I wanted specific information about why I had to educate from a pro-abortion perspective not just pro-life. I explained to her that the Pro-Life Action League even has pro-life in their title and they certainly don’t teach pro-abortion topics and they are still 501(c)(3). I also told her that Planned Parenthood does not teach about pro-life issues yet they are also still a 501(c)(3).”
He also told WND that the IRS had rewritten his proposed bylaws “to paint our organization as a political organization. I couldn’t believe they took it upon themselves to do that,” he told WND.
The result is that the IRS gave him 90 days “to prove that we are not involved in political issues at all.”
WND reported when the IRS story broke last week that Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., believes the IRS “confession” was made because Barack Obama wants to distract attention from the scandal of his administration’s behavior when Islamists attacked and killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya.
Bachmann, a former tax attorney and a leader of the congressional tea party caucus, told WND, “There’s no doubt this was not a coincidence that they dumped this story today, a Friday dump day This is when they put their negative stories out.”
But she said the looming storm cloud called Benghazi is the “soft underbelly” of the Obama administration and likely will keep Hillary Clinton from fulfilling her dream of occupying the Oval Office.
That would make it logical to release an IRS story that, while embarrassing, also could be cubbyholed as another “conservative” dispute with the White House.
She was referring to the ongoing hearings on the administration’s handling of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack by al-Qaida-linked terrorists on a U.S. foreign service post in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including the ambassador.
House Republicans allege the U.S. government knew of a terrorist threat but ignored it. After the attack, critics charge, the administration blamed the deaths on reaction to an obscure anti-Muslim video, despite evidence from the beginning that it was a premeditated terrorist attack.
Locked in a tight presidential race, a deliberate assault on American assets and the murder of Americans by al-Qaida on a date as significant as 9/11 would have damaged Obama’s campaign claim that his administration had al-Qaida under control.
Bachmann said the IRS announcement of misbehavior was intended to provoke conservatives and draw their anger and attention.
“I was in that Benghazi hearing,” she told WND. “I think the Obama administration is desperate to spin Benghazi, and they can’t. I think they saved this story up for a day like today so that conservatives would focus on this admission.”
It won’t work, she insisted.
“Conservatives can handle two shocking stories at the same time,” she said. “Both are equally unconstitutional and call into question the very president.”
The IRS confirmed on Friday that it had been targeting groups with “patriot,” “Constitution” or “tea party” in their names for punishment through additional questioning and delays.
The American Center for Law and Justice under Jay Sekulow’s leadership already had been fighting the battle.
“We knew from the very start that this intimidation tactic was coordinated and focused directly on specific organizations,” said Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ.
"This admission by the IRS represents a significant victory for free speech and freedom of association. There was never any doubt that these organizations complied with the law and applied for tax exempt status for their activities as Americans have done for decades. And for the many tax-exempt groups we represent, this is an important day – and underscores the need to stand-up and defend your constitutional freedoms."
The ACLJ has been representing nearly 30 tea party organizations that had been the target of intimidation tactics by the IRS under the Obama administration.
Among the details the IRS demanded:
- "Have you attempted or will you attempt to influence the outcome of specific legislation? If so, provide the following … all communications, pamphlets, advertisements, and other materials."
- "Have you conducted or will you conduct candidate forums? If so, provide the following details… The issues that were discussed. Copies of all handouts provided."
- "The names of persons from your organization and the amount of time they will spend on the event. Indicate the name and amount of compensation that will be paid to each person."
- "All copies of your corporate minutes from inception."
- "Please identify your volunteers."
- "The names of donors, contributors, and grantors."
- "Do you encourage eligible voters to educate themselves, register to vote, and vote? Explain in detail how you do this."
- "You were formed 12/28/10. Provide actual financial information for 2010 & 2011, and a budget for 2012. Provide details regarding each item listed."
Bachmann told WND it's stunning that the Obama administration used "the federal agency feared most by Americans to intimidate conservative and tea party organizations during an election year."
Since the IRS also is the chief enforcer of Obamacare requirements, she asked whether the IRS's admission means it "will deny or delay access to health care" for conservatives.
At this point, she said, that "is a reasonable question to ask."
Over the weekend, instead of dying, the IRS story turned white-hot.
Fox News reported the House Ways and Means Committee will be holding a hearing and the attacks began as early as 2010, only a little more than a year after Obama took office.
ABC's Jonathan Karl reported officials high in the agency knew that was happening as early as 2011, and The Examiner said the IRS also singled out business owners who were critical of the Obama administration.
Politico noted some tea party organizations already have threatened to bring the misbehaving IRS officials into court.
"Given the sheer scope of malfeasance at the IRS, there may be a legal resource," said Dan Backer, who represents conservative groups.