HOUSTON, February 11 — Catherine Engelbrecht testified Thursday at a hearing before the House of Representatives on the alleged targeting of conservatives by the IRS and other federal agencies. She sent a message to President Obama and a political machine that was doing all it could to shut her up, and it was loud, clear and amazing.
“After all the tyranny, all the things that have been done to my organizations, to my family and to me; many people would have quit. And, Mr. Chairman, many Americans have quit. I have heard, over and over, that people are afraid to tell their stories because of what has or might happen to them and their families at the hands of our own government. But know this, my experiences at the hands of this government in these last five years have made me more determined than ever to stand before you and America and say I will not retreat. I will not surrender. I refuse to be intimidated. I will not ask for permission to exercise my Constitutional rights.”
For this courage, bravery, and resilience in the face of all she has dealt with, Engelbrecht should be hailed as a true American patriot and a role model for all Americans who cherish their rights to freedom of speech and association enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Catherine Engelbrecht is a mother and small business owner from Houston, Texas. Prior to 2010 she was never involved in politics. In 2010 she founded two conservative non-profit groups — True the Vote and King Street Patriots — and filed for non-profit status for both with the IRS. A process that used to take 3-4 weeks took Ms. Engelbrecht over three years, says her lawyer, Cleta Mitchell, who has represented organizations applying for non-profit status for decades. Mitchell, who testified at the same hearing as Engelbrecht, said that she represents many conservative groups with similar stories and that Engelbrecht’s story is not uncommon among her clients.
Engelbrecht’s True the Vote has grown into a national movement. It has trained over 1 million poll watchers and was instrumental in the removal of thousands of dead and non-existent people from numerous states’ voter rolls for the 2012 election. King Street Patriots has grown into a major conservative group in Houston, and it regularly hosts speakers such as Sen. Ted Cruz.
For two decades, Engelbrecht and her husband ran a small business and raised their kids. They never once had an encounter with the federal government other than their annual tax payment. Between the time she filed for her non-profit status for True The Vote and King Street Patriots, Engelbrecht has been subjected to over 15 inquiries, investigations and audits from five different federal organizations.
Engelbrecht testified that since filing for tax exempt status, both her personal and business tax returns have been audited going back a number of years. Her business was randomly inspected by OSHA in 2012 and, even though OSHA formally reported that it found no serious or significant violations, it issued a $20,000 fine. Once in 2012 and again in 2013 the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms conducted comprehensive audits at her place of business. Beginning in 2010, the FBI has contacted her non-profit organizations a total of six times to review information on all of her groups’ members and volunteers, allegedly in conjunction with domestic terrorism cases. They found nothing.
Although almost all of this information is from Engelbrecht’s testimony, it is highly unlikely she stretched even the slightest detail. While many Democrats can get away with freely lying to Congress — see National Security Director James Clapper testifying that the NSA does not collect mass data on any citizens, and Attorney General Eric Holder’s testimony regarding when he found out about Fast and Furious — that standard does not apply to those who won’t follow orders from the liberal overseers . A woman who knows that she has been targeted by a vindictive administration knows her testimony must be exquisitely accurate or she will face a federal perjury charge.
The IRS only gave Englebrecht’s groups non-profit status in September, 2013, because Engelbrecht sued the IRS. The IRS told her they would give her the non-profit status she deserved if she dropped the case. Before then, she was subjected to many rounds of questioning, including requests for every Facebook and Twitter post she had ever made, and questions about events she spoke at, the content of her speeches, and her personal political ambitions.
Engelbrecht said of the IRS demands for information, “The answers to these sorts of questions are not of interest to the typical IRS analyst, but they are of great interest to a political machine that puts its own survival above the civil liberties of any private citizen.”
Obama’s progressive political machine has done a thorough job of shutting down dissent and criticism. We might call its efforts “Nixonian,” except that would be an insult to Nixon and understate the scope of Obama’s efforts. Many times the Obama Administration has used various different agencies in conjunction to attack and discourage conservative opposition to his policies and tactics. For those individuals out there, like Engelbrecht, who haven’t given up the fight against this unparalleled expansion of federal power and authority into every aspect of every one of our lives — thank you so much. You all are an inspiration to anyone of any political party who still cherishes the Constitution and our God given rights.
Anyone who has lost motivation in the face of what seems like a losing battle against Obama’s political machine should take strength from the words of a true American patriot, Catherine Engelbrecht: “This government attacked me because of my political beliefs, but I refuse to be cast as a victim; not to the IRS, not to the FBI, not to OSHA, not to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, or to any other government agency.
“I am not a victim, because to be a victim is to accept that I have no options. I do have options and I intend to use them all to the fullest extent of my capabilities. As an American citizen, I am part of a country that still believes in freedom of speech, and so I will continue to speak out; here in Congress and all across this country, I will continue to press in every legal way possible, as I did by filing suit against the Internal Revenue Service. No American citizen should be willing to accept a government that uses its power against its own people.”
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