What is going on with the Department of Justice? Some days it looks the same as the Obama Department of Justice. Catherine Engelbrecht, the founder of True the Vote, is as surprised as anyone to find out that little has changed in DOJ’s attitude about the IRS targeting conservative groups to get rid of them. In this case, True the Vote has been in an eight-year-long battle in court with still no end in sight.
You may remember the IRS scandal of the agency targeting conservative groups as the Tea Party movement rose. IRS Director Lois Lerner lost her job, eventually, over the scandal though she retained her pension and retirement benefits. True the Vote began in 2010 as a citizen-led effort to preserve election integrity. The group filed an application to certify their non-profit status through the IRS, as they wanted to do things “the right way”, as Engelbrecht said. Unfortunately, the IRS used these application forms as a gateway to bully the conservative groups out of existence.
In the case of Engelbrecht and True the Vote, a total of 23 audits were conducted by various agencies – IRS, DOJ, FBI, etc. – even though the agency claimed in court that this activity had ended in 2013.
So, in an update to supporters and interested citizens, Engelbrecht emailed a recap bringing everyone up to date, along with a short YouTube video. By the beginning of 2018, the DOJ appeared ready to strike a deal. The IRS agreed to a laundry list of wrongdoing, legal protection from further abuse, and they would allow True the Vote to petition for attorney fees for the years this mess was tied up in courts. Engelbrecht and True the Vote agreed and signed the decree. Now, though, the happy headlines have faded and the DOJ has reversed the course and filed a response to the court opposing the True the Vote petition. DOJ denies admitting to anything, stated the consent decree shows that conservative groups had, in fact, lost in court and that in their view the IRS had won. The settlements meant nothing, and not one dime of attorney fees would be awarded.
DOJ now claims that the IRS was right to fight True the Vote. Engelbrecht notes, “The Trump administration is defending the IRS targeting American citizens.” It’s like the Obama DOJ is back in the saddle. True the Vote’s battle continues.
Engelbrecht offers three actions for consideration to President Trump: “End IRS abuse, hold rogue agents accountable and stop DOJ games.” It is hard to believe that the Trump administration is ok with saying the IRS’s five-year war on conservative groups was justifiable and that abuse can continue, even today.
The short YouTube video is here: