This is the first of two parts on the testimony provided by six organizations targeted by the IRS for their conservative political views before the House Ways & Means Committee on June 4, 2013. Chairman Camp stated for the record that the minority party (Democrat) was entitled to invite an organization to testify and they declined to do so.
Linchpins of Liberty (TN) – Mr. Kevin Kookogey, President and Founder
About: Linchpins of Liberty (“Linchpins”) is an American leadership-development enterprise designed to challenge the imagination of the rising generation. They do that by mentoring high school and college students in conservative political philosophy. They teach about the great books and the foundation of America’s moral and constitutional order. They believe that God is the measure of all things and the soul is the essence of humanity.
IRS Targeting: Linchpins applied for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in January 2011 as an educational organization and have currently been waiting for 29 months without status. The organization lost a $30,000 launch grant from a reputable nonprofit whose Executive Director said he had never seen such treatment of a 501(c)(3) applicant in 25 years of making grants. Mr. Kookogey went on to say that he lost multiple thousands of his own money and ceased further official activity for fear the IRS would target him for further harassment.
Potentially Unconstitutional and/or Illegal Information Requests: Identify political affiliation of his mentors; state political position on virtually every issue of importance to him; identity of those he would train (including names of minors that could put him at risk for being sued and the minors’ parents at risk of an IRS audit); inform the federal government in detail what he is teaching his students; failure to comply would result in denial of Linchpins’ application or subject him to perjury; on 12/31/11 he received a return call from Ron Bell in Cincinnati who informed Mr. Kookogey that he had been waiting on guidance from his superiors as to his organization and similar organizations.
Laurens County Tea Party (SC) – Dianne Belsom, Founder and President
About: Laurens County Tea Party (“LCTP”) is a social welfare organization that seeks to educate themselves and their fellow citizens on various issues pertinent to living in a free country. They also work to educate voters by vetting candidates and holding candidate forums during election years. They held their first Tax Day Tea Party rally in 2009. They formally organized in the state of South Carolina in March 2010.
IRS Targeting: LCTP applied for 501(c)(4) status on July 22, 2010. On August 11, 2010 they received communication from the IRS that if additional information was needed to process the application, they would be contacted within approximately 90 days. Hearing nothing and receiving no approval, LCTP contacted the IRS in the summer of 2011, was told the case was still pending but in the meantime they were still responsible to file tax returns, which they did.
Potentially Unconstitutional and/or Illegal Information Requests: On November 14, 2011, they received a letter that they may be required to file a Form 990-N. Their next communication was September 6, 2012 wherein they were requested to provide overly burdensome information including documents already provided, verification of information the IRS printed from their website; copies from other social media sites including FB; information on videos posted on their website, and a list of expenses for last 3 years. They were aware of the Tea Party targeting and contacted ACLJ. They submitted the requested information by the end of December 2012 and on January 31, 2013 received another request for their Articles of Incorporation, emails sent, copies of ads, pictures, etc. They complied on March 5, 2013 and have yet to receive their approval.
National Organization for Marriage – Dr. John Eastman, Chairman of the Board
About: The National Organization for Marriage (“NOM”) had their 501(c)(4) status approved in 2008.
Potentially Unconstitutional and/or Illegal Actions: In March 2012, the confidential portions of NOM’s Form 990 tax returns, including Schedule B, which is the listing of major donors and their home addresses, appeared on the website of the Human Rights Campaign (“HRC”), principal political opponent of NOM, partially redacted. NOM’s computer forensic people were able to lift the redacting and discovered the IRS receipt stamping, automatically generated on electronically filed returns, beneath the redacting. Dr. Eastman went on to day that NOM’s donors were harassed and intimidated and chilled away from supporting the cause NOM advances.
Actions Taken: NOM’s computer forensic people were able to lift the redacting and discovered the IRS receipt stamping, automatically generated on electronically filed returns, beneath the redacting. Dr. Eastman went on to day that NOM’s donors were harassed and intimidated and chilled away from supporting the cause NOM advances. NOM also immediately requested an investigation by the Treasury’s Investigator General for Tax Administration (“TIGTA”) and the Department of Justice because the actions committed, in his expert legal opinion, are felonies. He went on to say that TIGTA initially investigated NOM for the release even though the IRS stamping is within the IRS computer system and that document is not provided to the taxpayer. NOM began filing a series of Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) requests with TIGTA and the IRS and were stonewalled. Dr. Eastman went on to add that on May 3, 2013, TIGTA notified him that the person(s) that committed the felony/felonies was private tax return information.
In closing, Dr. Eastman asked the Committee to do several things, including issue subpoenas to HRC. He reminded the Committee that the head of the HRC had been named the national co-chair of the Obama re-election campaign.