True the Vote, a Houston-based nonprofit dedicated to fighting voter fraud, has filed suit in federal court against the IRS, asking the court to grant its tax-exempt status (three years after applying) and seeking damages for unlawful actions taken by the IRS against the organization.
Catherine Engelbrecht, a member of the Harris County, Texas, tea-party organization King Street Patriots, founded True the Vote after serving as a poll worker during the 2008 elections. Observing how understaffed polling places seemed to encourage voter fraud, she established True the Vote to train poll workers to “true” the vote: “to research the voter rolls in their home districts and to report inaccuracies to their County and State, to identify instances of vote fraud, and to be able to serve as observers at the polls to assure the integrity of the vote.”
“We’ve been waiting for three years to receive a decision from the IRS about our tax exempt status,” says Engelbrecht in a True the Vote press release. “After answering hundreds of questions and producing thousands of documents, we’re done waiting. The IRS does not have the power to pocket veto our application. Federal law empowers groups like True the Vote to force a decision in court — which is precisely what we aim to do.”
After filing with the IRS, Engelbrecht and her family’s small manufacturing business was audited by the IRS — and received unexpected scrutiny from OSHA, the ATF, and the FBI.
True the Vote’s lawsuit consists of three counts:
Count One: Seeks recognition of True the Vote as a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization pursuant to 26 USC § 7428.
Count Two: Seeks damages and injunctive relief from the IRS and IRS employees and agents, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), for violation of True the Vote’s constitutional rights by virtue of the actions of the government in unlawfully targeting and delaying recognition of True the Vote’s exempt status.
Count Three: Seeks damages and injunctive relief against the IRS and IRS employees, pursuant to 26 USC § 7431, for their unlawful intrusions into True the Vote’s activities by requiring the filing of voluminous materials with the IRS, then unlawfully inspecting and potentially disseminating the information.
Says Cleta Mitchell, attorney for True the Vote: “We are not going to allow the IRS to claim, as it has been doing in the past week, that the targeting of conservative groups is over and ‘everything has been fixed.’ It is not yet fixed and this litigation is a vital step both to resolve True the Vote’s status and to learn exactly what happened inside the IRS.”