The IRS is throwing in the towel in its three-year fight to deny 501(c)(3) status to True the Vote, a group based in Houston that fights vote fraud. Perhaps the scandal-plagued agency feels remorse for targeting this group, or at least guesses it will lose the lawsuit True the Vote has brought against it in federal court.
But the more likely explanation is that the agency fears what the discovery process in the lawsuit will bring to light. That explanation fits with the IRS’s filing, simultaneously, to grant True the Vote its exempt status and to move that the court dismiss the lawsuit.
Those towel-throwing and rear-covering motions were combined in the same court document. And when was the document filed? On last Friday night, the time of the week when Washingtonians make their dirtiest moves, hoping to escape the news cycle.
I don’t blame the IRS. True the Vote’s lead counsel is Cleta Mitchell, a partner at Foley & Lardner LLP and an unflinchingly principled conservative. Watch her recent talk at the Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal and see if you’d like to tangle with her in court when you’re trying to hide your misdeeds.
Ironically, as of today, the IRS still hadn’t bothered to provide True the Vote with the standard letter granting tax-exempt status. And while True the Vote plans to accept that long-delayed letter if it ever arrives, the group will not back down on its federal suit. As Mitchell explains,
What about the costs and damages incurred by True the Vote for the past three years while the IRS unlawfully delayed issuing the letter of recognition? What about all of the confidential and proprietary information sought and demanded from True the Vote that the Treasury Inspector General has stated was not necessary for determining True the Vote’s eligibility for exempt status, and which is now apparently going to be made public? What about the violation of True the vote’s constitutional rights by the IRS and its agents and employees during the course of these last three years?
Nor was True the Vote president Catherine Engelbrecht any less unbowed. “I cannot believe,” she declared,
as an American citizen, that the IRS is above the law, and I refuse to accept that a citizen has no remedy against the IRS for the kinds of things it has done to our group these past three years. This case is just getting started.
The IRS picked on the wrong ladies, and all of us can be grateful that they are standing up to the bureaucratic bullies who foolishly hoped to steamroll them.