Testimony from behind closed doors on Capitol Hill has confirmed WND’s report of a week ago that said the IRS continues to target tea party and conservative groups – despite the escalating scandal over its viewpoint-based discrimination.
WND reported at the time that the Thomas More Society had revealed it submitted evidence of further targeting to U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., who is on the House Committee on Ways and Means, detailing continuing targeting by the IRS.
Now according to a report from the Washington Examiner, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp released testimony from an agent “involved in reviewing tax exempt applications from conservative groups” who said the agency “is still targeting tea party groups, three months after the IRS scandal erupted.”
According to the Examiner, the agent was not identified.
But he or she told the congressional committee that tea party groups now are being forced “into a special ‘secondary screening’ because the agency has yet to come up with new guidance on how to judge the tax status of the groups.”
In the testimony that was released was a question: “If you saw – I am asking this currently, if today if a tea party case, a group – a case from a tea party group came in to your desk, you reviewed the file and there was no evidence of political activity, would you potentially approve that case? Is that something you would do?”
The agent’s response was, “”At this point I would send it to secondary screening, political advocacy.”
Camp told the Examiner the continued targeting was “outrageous.”
WND reported Aug. 2 that the Thomas More Society had documented confirmation from the conservative groups they still were in the bull’s-eye of the feared federal agency.
The organization’s report explained its first legal memorandum was submitted on May 16, 2013, reporting “salient details of several legal cases handled by Thomas More Society which indicate that the harassment of ‘conservative’ non-profit organizations by the Internal Revenue Service … extends well beyond ‘tea party’ and ‘patriot’ groups and includes ‘pro-life’ or ‘anti-abortion’ groups…”
“Since the IRS scandal became public, Thomas More Society has been contacted by numerous other groups seeking legal counsel relating to IRS harassment. This supplemental memorandum addresses three (3) new matters which provide further evidence of illegal, unconstitutional, viewpoint-based IRS harassment of pro-life organizations.”
Explained the legal team, “These new cases also illustrate that harassment has been continuing through the present date. The Society is even now responding to IRS inquiries addressed to its client, Emerald Coast Coalition for Life, which go far beyond the IRS’ purview, and which have delayed issuance of its tax exemption.”
Evidence already had documented that the IRS has inquired of some conservative and Christian organizations about the content of their prayers, and has tried to extract promises regarding support for abortion.
The Societysaid it has produced more than 250 pages of documentation showing that the federal government still interrogates pro-life groups “beyond the scope of its legal authority, infringing upon these organizations’ First Amendment rights of assembly, free speech and religious liberty.”
“Despite claims to the contrary, the IRS continues to target and harass pro-life and conservative charities, illegally questioning their religious activities and withholding their tax exemptions,” said Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel of the Thomas More Society. “We have now produced irrefutable evidence of six clients whose First Amendment rights were trampled upon by the IRS because of their position upholding the sanctity of life. Even after public disclosure of this wrongdoing, the Obama administration’s IRS has refused to cease its illegal activity. We will continue to aid Congress in its investigation until those responsible are brought to justice and the IRS is made to respect every American’s constitutional rights.”
Other groups with new claims of harassment are Cherish Life Ministries and LIFE Group.
The society’s report said that evidence involving the pro-life groups, under a president whose advocacy throughout his tenure in the White House has been wholeheartedly in support of even late-term abortion, “reveals blatant bias on the part of the IRS agents assigned to process those applications. Repeatedly these pro-life groups were harassed with questions about time spent in prayer at abortion facilities and told that they must educate and advocate on abortion from both sides of the issue.”
The society report continued, “Two groups were also falsely denied their tax exemption status by IRS agent Mrs. R. Medley who claimed they didn’t qualify under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS Code. All three groups’ tax exemptions were delayed 13-16 months with IRS supervisors, including Lois Lerner, singling out their applications for further review by an ‘exemption organization specialist.’”
The Thomas More Society said it gave information to Schock documenting that at least six different groups “have experienced viewpoint-biased discrimination by the IRS, dating back to 2009 and involving multiple IRS offices and agents, including those in El Monte, California; Chicago, Illinois; and Cincinnati, Ohio.”