A Chilling Tale

Jillian Kay Melchior at National Review Online:

True Scandal
A tea-party group targeted by Democrats gets attention from the IRS—and the FBI, OSHA, and the ATF.

Catherine Engelbrecht’s tale has all the markings of a classic conspiracy theory: She says she thinks that because of her peaceful political activity, she and her family was targeted for scrutiny by hostile federal agencies.

Yet as news emerges that the Internal Revenue Service wielded its power to obstruct conservative groups, Catherine’s story becomes credible and chilling. It also raises questions about whether other federal agencies have used their executive powers to target those deemed political enemies.


These formative experiences prompted her to found two organizations: King Street Patriots, a local community group that hosts weekly discussions on personal and economic freedoms; and True the Vote, which seeks to prevent voter fraud and trains volunteers to work as election monitors. It also registers voters, attempts to validate voter-registration lists, and pursues fraud reports to push for prosecution if illegal activity has occurred.


In July 2010, Catherine filed with the IRS seeking tax-exempt status for her organizations. Shortly after, the troubles began.

That winter, the Federal Bureau of Investigation came knocking with questions about a person who had attended a King Street Patriots event once. Based on sign-in sheets, the organization discovered that the individual in question had attended an event, but it was a come-and-go thing, and they had no further information on hand about him. Nevertheless, the FBI also made inquiries about the person to the office manager, who was a volunteer.

The King Street Patriots weren’t the only ones under scrutiny. On January 11, the IRS visited the Engelbrecht’s shop and conducted an on-site audit of both their business and their personal returns, Catherine says.

“What struck us as odd about that,” she adds,”is the lengths to which the auditor went to try to” it seemed like ”to try to find some error. She wanted to go out and see [our] farm, she wanted to count the cattle, she wanted to look at the fence line. It was a very curious three days. She was as kind as she could be, and she was doing her job [but] it was strange.”


Two months later, the IRS initiated the first round of questions for True the Vote. Catherine painstakingly answered them, knowing that nonprofit status would help with the organization’s credibility, donors, and grant applications. In October, the IRS requested additional information. And whenever Catherine followed up with IRS agents about the status of True the Vote’s application, “there was always a delay that our application was going to be up next, and it was just around the corner,” she says,

As this was occurring, the FBI continued to phone King Street Patriots. In May 2011, agents phoned wondering “how they were doing.” The FBI made further inquiries in June, November, and December asking whether there was anything to report.

The situation escalated in 2012. That February, True the Vote received a third request for information from the IRS, which also sent its first questionnaire to King Street Patriots. Catherine says the IRS had hundreds of questions, “hundreds and hundreds of questions.” The IRS requested every Facebook post and Tweet she had ever written. She received questions about her family, whether she’d ever run for political office, and which organizations she had spoken to.


On the same day they received the questions from the IRS, Catherine says, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) launched an unscheduled audit of their machine shop, forcing the Engelbrechts to drop everything planned for that day. Though the Engelbrechts have a Class 7 license, which allows them to make component parts for guns, they do not manufacture firearms. Catherine said that while the ATF had a right to conduct the audit, “it was odd that they did it completely unannounced, and they took five, six hours. It was so extensive. It just felt kind of weird.”

That was in February. In July, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration paid a visit to Engelbrecht Manufacturing while Bryan, Catherine, and their children were out of town. The OSHA inspector talked with the managerial staff and employees, inspecting the premises minutely. But Bryan says the agent found “only little Mickey Mouse stuff”, like, “You have safety glasses on, but not the right kind; the forklift has a seatbelt, but not the right kind.” Yet Catherine and Bryan said the OSHA inspector complimented them on their tightly run shop and said she didn’t know why she had been sent to examine it.

Not long after, the tab arrived. OSHA was imposing $25,000 in fines on Engelbrecht Manufacturing. They eventually worked it down to $17,500, and Bryan says they may have tried to contest the fines to drive them even lower, but “we didn’t want to make any more waves, because we don’t know [how much further] OSHA could reach.”


A few months later, True the Vote became the subject of congressional scrutiny. In September, Senator Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) wrote to Thomas Perez, then the assistant attorney general of the civil rights division at the Department of Justice (who has now been nominated for labor secretary).


And in October, Representative Elijah Cummings (D., Md.), the ranking minority member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, attacked True the Vote in a letter. […] He also decried True the Vote on MSNBC and CNN.


The next month, in November 2012, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the state’s environmental agency, showed up for an unscheduled audit at Engelbrecht Manufacturing. Catherine says the inspector told her the agency had received a complaint but couldn’t provide any more details. After the inspection, the agency notified the Engelbrechts that they needed to pay for an additional mechanical permit, which cost about $2,000 per year.

Since then, the IRS has sent two further rounds of questions to Catherine for her organizations. And last month, the ATF conducted a second unscheduled audit at Engelbrecht Manufacturing.

Catherine says she still hasn’t received IRS approval for her nonprofits, though she filed nearly three years ago.

That was just one couple’s experience. I wonder how many more of these stories will emerge in the coming days?

Yes, it can happen here.

About Myiq2xu - BA, JD, FJB

I was born and raised in a different country - America. I don't know what this place is.
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52 Responses to A Chilling Tale

  1. myiq2xu says:

    I’m having a hard time keeping up with all these scandals. I still haven’t touched the AP subpoena case and now there are revelations about James Rosen.

  2. HELENK says:


    now isn’t this just peachy. IRS counsel bailed jeramiah wright’s church out of IRS probe in 2008

  3. myiq2xu says:

    Remember Ben Ghazi!

    • fembotsforobama says:

      Now a republican doctored the email re: Benghazi? These people are shameful. Who is the WH adviser and why are we seeing him? My only guess is to spread more lies while the WH being able to maintain that yet another rogue person said some misstatements.

  4. Somebody says:

    Wow I missed a lot of news so far today. You can’t be away from the computer or TV more than a couple of hours these days!

    Has there been any news on the IRS employees that were supposed to testify today? I thought it was 5 in total, they may be private but you’d think something would drip out.

  5. votermom says:

    I wonder if we will ever know … I remember someone here about his kids adoption might be a pressure point

  6. votermom says:

    I lost the link, but I read a tweet earlier saying -what if these scandals are Obama’s way of further intimidating his opponents?
    Remember he knows he’s safe from impeachment, so maybe letting people see how thuggish his admin is on purpose to scare us more?

  7. votermom says:

  8. Bad time to be a Fed. What lie to tell your grandkids? I worked in Delhi?

    They brought it on themselves.Local LEO’s are “cops”.State LEO’s are “troopers”.Fed LEO’s are “lying, bullying dirtbags”. #nohonor— 49erDweet (D) (@49erdweet) May 20, 2013

  9. votermom says:

    Tornado wrecking Oklahoma City. Highway and 2 schools directly hit.

  10. myiq2xu says:
  11. myiq2xu says:

    For argument’s sake, assume it’s all true — Obama knows zip zero zilch about malfeasance in his administration apart from what he learns by watching TV. A conscientious exec who found himself in that position, being repeatedly blindsided by underlings, should probably be … pretty angry, right? Being caught flat-footed over and over again makes him look bad and makes his “company” look bad. Does O seem angry, though? Apart from booting out an acting IRS commissioner whose term was set to expire in a few weeks anyway, what gestures has he made to communicate his displeasure? No one in his inner circle has been fired. He reiterated his support for Eric Holder just a few days ago. If I didn’t know better, I’d think being kept blissfully unaware of his Justice Department snooping on reporters and his tax collector targeting his political enemies was something he did by design, to give himself ignorance as an excuse for when the news eventually broke. Obama’s “passivity” and “disengagement” aren’t bugs in his strategy of governance, they’re features.

  12. Shamelessly stolen from Cop Humor on EfBeeYes, it has now come to this. twitter.com/49erdweet/stat…— 49erDweet (D) (@49erdweet) May 20, 2013

  13. foxyladi14 says:

    Did he say Frankly Scarlet!!!! 😆

  14. insanelysane says:


    “Suddenly in 2013, what was once sure has become suspect. All the old referents are not as they once were. The world is turned upside down, and whether the government taps, politicizes, or lies is not so important if it subsidizes the 47%”

    “I suppose that when a presidential candidate urges his supporters to get in someone’s face, and to take a gun to a knife fight, from now on you better believe him. And, finally, the strangest thing about nearing the threshold of 1984? It comes with a whimper, not a bang, with a charismatic smile and mellifluous nonsense—with politically correct, egalitarian-minded bureaucrats with glasses and iPhones instead of fist-shaking jack-booted thugs. “

  15. myiq2xu says:

    These guys are insane:

  16. HELENK says:


    blame middle management for Benghazi. the buck stopped half way to the top

  17. swanspirit says:

  18. yttik says:

    It’s really awful to have the government target you for political reasons. They have all the power and you have very little recourse. Living in a small town, we’ve had our share of local politics gone wrong and it’s the most aggravating thing because it’s so hard to fight back. There is a significant amount of harassment that they can get away with.

  19. HELENK says:

    All children at Briarwood Elementary School in Oklahoma City accounted for, @NEWS9 reports

  20. HELENK says:

    crazy thought

    with all the scandals since backtrack took office does anyone else feel the it has been a continuous dodge ball game?

  21. Myiq: Would you prefer I post the Book Club discussion of Finlay’s book tonight, or save it for first thing in the morning so you can sleep in?

  22. HELENK says:

    Okla tornado leaves path 20 miles long

  23. HELENK says:


    ABC news followed by armed guards at IRS offices in Ohio

  24. DeniseVB says:

    Oh snap. I made Twitchy today. Hope Olbermann saw it, he made this list too, but not related to our “conversation” earlier 😉


  25. 1539days says:

    If you ever wondered why Reagan said government is the problem, this is it.

  26. Erica says:

    These cases like the Engelbright’s are chilling to the bone. I think we’ve gone past the 1984 threshold.

    Prayers to all in Oklahoma. I hope your people are okay, myiq.

  27. Erica says:

    Oops, make that Engelbrecht. It’s been a long day, but I’ve got nothing to complain about.

  28. fif says:

    All of that because she wanted to ensure honest elections.

    And there you have it.

Comments are closed.