Friday, May 24, 2013
Peggy Noonan's article in the Wall street Journal about Catherine Engelbrecht tells you all you need to know about the Obama government.
But the most important IRS story came not from the hearings but from Mike Huckabee's program on Fox News Channel. He interviewed and told the story of Catherine Engelbrecht—a nice woman, a citizen, an American. She and her husband live in Richmond, Texas. They have a small manufacturing business. In the past few years she became interested in public policy and founded two groups, King Street Patriots, and True the Vote.In July 2010 she sent applications to the IRS for tax-exempt status. What followed was not the harassment, intrusiveness and delay we're now used to hearing of. The US government came down on her with full force.In December 2010 the FBI came to ask about a person who'd attended a King Street Patriots function. In January 2011 the FBI had more questions. The same month the IRS audited her business tax returns. In May 2011 the FBI called again for a general inquiry about King Street Patriots. In June 2011 Engelbrecht's personal tax returns were audited and the FBI called again. In October 2011 a round of questions on True the Vote. In November 2011 another call from the FBI. The next month, more questions from the FBI. In February 2012 a third round of IRS questions on True the Vote. In February 2012 a first round of questions on King Street Patriots. The same month the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms did an unscheduled audit of her business. (It had a license to make firearms but didn't make them.) In July 2012 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration did an unscheduled audit. In November 2012 more IRS questions on True the Vote. In March 2013, more questions. In April 2013 a second ATF audit.All this because she requested tax-exempt status for a local conservative group and for one that registers voters and tries to get dead people off the rolls. Her attorney, Cleta Mitchell, who provided the timeline above, told me: "These people, they are just regular Americans. They try to get dead people off the voter rolls, you would think that they are serial killers."This week Ms. Engelbrecht, who still hasn't received her exemptions, sued the IRS.
This did not come about because of some low level employee in a cubicle in Cincinnati. When that many government agencies come down on you, that's the Chicago way.
This was Chicago. And for a business owner to get involved meant one thing: It would cost you money and somebody from government could destroy you.The health inspectors would come, and the revenue department, the building inspectors, the fire inspectors, on and on. The city code books aren't thick because politicians like to write new laws and regulations. The codes are thick because when government swings them at a citizen, they hurt.And who swings the codes and regulations at those who'd open their mouths? A government worker. That government worker owes his or her job to the political boss. And that boss has a boss.The worker doesn't have to be told. The worker wants a promotion. If an irritant rises, it is erased. The hack gets a promotion. This is government.So everybody kept their mouths shut, and Chicago was hailed by national political reporters as the city that works.I didn't understand it all back then, but I understand it now. Once there were old bosses. Now there are new bosses. And shopkeepers still keep their mouths shut. Tavern owners still keep their mouths shut.Even billionaires keep their mouths shut.One hard-working billionaire whose children own the Chicago Cubs dared to open his mouth. Joe Ricketts considered funding a political group critical of Obama before last year's campaign. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama's former chief of staff, made it clear that if the Cubs wanted City Hall's approval to refurbish decrepit Wrigley Field, Ricketts better back off.It happened. He backed off. It was sickening. But it was and is Chicago.And now — with the IRS used as political muscle and the Obama administration keeping that secret until after the president was elected — America understands it too.