Yes, I suppose there's some information worth considering in a new McClatchy story titled "IRS May Have Targeted Conservatives More Broadly" -- for instance, I may not like what the suburban Houston anti-abortion group Christian Voices for Life does, but if its picketing of Planned Parenthood clinics isn't intended to influence elections, and if it's otherwise done within the law, and if none of its other activities are intended to favor any political candidate over any other, and if analogous liberal groups get 501(c)(3) status with little fuss, then, no, the group should not have had to jump through extra hoops to get 501(c)(3) approval.
But if we're talking about Catherine Engelbrecht of True the Vote and the King Street Patriots, I have no sympathy whatsoever, and my only problem with making her jump through hoops to get tax-exempt status is that her application should have been laughed out of every office at the IRS.
From the McClatchy story:
Catherine Engelbrecht's family and business in Texas were audited by the government after her voting-rights group sought tax-exempt status from the IRS....Gee, I wonder where liberal group would get that idea. Perhaps from ... True the Vote itself?
Concerned about government regulation of her family's manufacturing business, she became dissatisfied with the political process and particularly the 2008 presidential choices.
She discovered like-minded viewpoints and attended rallies, organizing a group called the King Street Patriots....
After witnessing what she called voter irregularities in the Houston area, Engelbrecht formed a group called True the Vote. With a paid staff of five, it aims to educate 1 million poll workers nationwide on spotting election fraud. Liberal groups view it as a conservative effort aimed at restricting minority participation, a claim that True the Vote officials deny....
In 2010, before most reporters had heard of True the Vote, the group put out a video introducing itself. As epic battle music plays, far-right activist David Horowitz comes on screen. "The voting system is under attack now," he says. "Movements that are focused on voter fraud, on the integrity of elections are crucial. This is a war." Horowitz goes on to claim: "A Democratic party consultant once told me that Republicans have to win by at least 3 percent to win any elections." ...More:
"The left has been focused on this now for decades," says Horowitz, as photographs of black voters lining up to cast ballots flash by. "Obama's very connected to ACORN, which is a voter-fraud machine. ACORN is the radical army." ...
True the Vote's website portrays voter fraud as largely a Democractic party problem. It routinely runs stories on election fraud being perpetrated by "liberals," ... or "Democrats" ... but has, to date, never run a story on Republican or Conservative instances of voter fraud....In 2010, in Texas, Engelbrecht accused Houston Votes, a group conducting a voter registration drive in poor and minority areas, of massive voter fraud -- adding the charge that the group's office was "the Texas office of the New Black Panthers."
In 2011, True the Vote posted an article on its website claiming that US attorney General Eric Holder supported a plan by the NAACP "to involve the United Nations in U.S. elections." referencing a protest the NAACP held across the street from the UN in December of 2011, and a related petition filed with the UN. Holder gave the protest and the petition no formal support, but True the Vote's press release made it seem like Holder was advocating direct UN involvement in American elections, asking ""Are you ready to have U.N. blue helmets outside your polling place?" This article earned True the Vote a "pants on fire" rating from Politifact.com....
... in 2012, True the Vote contributed $5000 to the Republican State Leadership Committee.... This overtly political statement would legally, according to tax lawyers specializing in election law, disqualify a nonprofit from 501(c)3 tax-exempt status....
The county's Republican voter registrar, Leo Vasquez, jumped on the allegations, holding a press conference on Aug. 24 and accusing Houston Votes of conducting "an organized and systemic attack" on the county's voter rolls.Also:
True The Vote ... put together a video raising the threat of voter fraud which features soaring music. "Think it can't happen in your town? Think again!" reads one message. "Our elections are being manipulated. By the RADICAL LEFT," the video says.In 2012, True the Vote was part of a project called Verify the Recall, which reviewed signatures on petitions calling for the recall of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker.
The video originally featured a doctored photo of an African-American voter holding a poorly photoshopped sign -- featuring Comic Sans font -- that read "I only got to vote once." That part of the video has since been edited out.
"Verify the Recall" is a joint project between the Houston-based nonprofit "True the Vote" (a project of the Texas Tea Party group King Street Patriots) and the Wisconsin Tea Party groups Grandsons of Liberty and We The People of the Republic.Oh, and there was that curious RV last year:
On Tuesday, February 28, Governor Walker ... request[ed] that the Government Accountability Board incorporate the "Verify the Recall" findings....
A cursory review of signatures that True the Vote considers "ineligible" strongly suggests they are not counting legitimate petitions....
* True the Vote discounts the signature of Mary Babiash (page 980) because she added the state abbreviation "WI" to her zip code. Her address is otherwise correct....
*The signature from Tyrell Luebkes (see page 983) would not be counted because he entered his city in the "street address" section, and vice versa.
* They would not count Cheryl L Koch's signature (see page 497), saying she had a "bad sign date" of 1/91/12 because of a stray pen stroke behind the "9" on the correct sign date: 1/9/12....
Driving down the Interstate in Florida, you may see an R.V. wrapped with a picture of Abraham Lincoln.
These eye-catching vehicles are mobile command centers for registering and energizing voters. They are part of a citizen effort to "defeat Obama, hold the House and win the Senate in November," Fred Solomon, a retired Alabama businessman, said in an e-mail to fellow Tea Party supporters.
Mr. Solomon is a coordinator for Code Red USA, the plan to flood swing states with conservative volunteers. "Partnering with True the Vote, a nonprofit, nonpartisan watchdog group, we will train and put election observers in polling places in the swing states to reduce voter fraud," Mr. Solomon said in his e-mail.
Code Red USA is financed by the Madison Project, a political action committee whose chairman is former Representative Jim Ryun, a Kansas Republican who was regarded as among the most conservative members of Congress. The provocative video promoting Code Red accuses Democrats of "a clear intent to commit massive voter fraud."
Despite Mr. Solomon's e-mail and the video, which identifies True the Vote as a participant, Ms. Engelbrecht said her group has no role in the effort.
The right wants Catherine Engelbrecht to be this year's Ollie North: culprit as victim. John Fund has portrayed her as a victim. So has Peggy Noonan. Selling her as a poster child is brazen, but brazen is what the right does best.
If Engelbrecht can be successfully sold that way, there are massive dividends for the right: not only are the IRS and the Obama administration discredited, but the GOP's vote suppression campaign gets a major boost going into 2014 and (especially) 2016. Whatever the Supreme Court does in its upcoming evisceration of the Voting Rights Act will dovetail with this very, very nicely.
Thanks a lot, McClatchy.