Ed Driscoll

IRS Agent to Pro-Life Group: 'Please Explain in Detail the Activities at [Your] Prayer Meetings'

Hey, remember back in 2004, when Barack Obama, then still a candidate for the US Senate in Illinois, said in the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, July of 2004 that put him in on the national map:

The pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue States: red states for Republicans, blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states.

The IRS asking what American citizens are praying about? That’s totally cool, though.

“This passage could have come directly from George Orwell’s imagination, emphasis mine,” Allahpundit writes at Hot Air, linking to testimony from Sue Martinek, president of the Coalition for Life of Iowa, to the House Ways and Means Committee today:

“[T]he IRS continued questioning us,” Martinek continued. “On June 22, 2009, IRS Agent Richards sent us additional written requests, as follows: ‘Please explain how all of your activities, including the prayer meetings held outside of Planned Parenthood are considered educational as defined under 501(c)(3).”

She added: “Organizations exempt under 501(c)(3) may present opinions with scientific or medical facts. Please explain in detail the activities at the prayer meetings. Also, please provide the percentage of time your organization spends on prayer groups as compared with the other activities of the organization. Please explain in detail the signs that are being held up outside of Planned Parenthood and explain how they are considered educational.’

As Allahpundit writes:

Yes, when I pray to our Lord, I usually check in with my local IRS office to ensure I’m not transgressing their authority by appealing to Him.  We are The Bureaucracy, and thou shalt have no other God before us.

More importantly, though, note that this began in June 2009 — long before Citizens United, with the Tea Party movement still in its nascent stage.  This demonstrates a hostility to conservative, pro-life activism that existed within the IRS well before the supposed triggering event from the Supreme Court.  It came well before the eruption of outrage at Congressional town-hall events during the recess of August 2009 that put the Tea Party movement on the national radar.

Oh and speaking of those Tea Party groups, they totally had it coming from the IRS, according to Dem. Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington State today:

McDERMOTT: As I listen to this discussion, I’d like to remind everyone what we’re talking about here. None of your organizations were kept from organizing, or silenced. We’re talking about whether or not the American taxpayers will subsidize your work. We’re talking about a tax break. If you didn’t come in and ask for this tax break, we would have never had a question to ask of you. You could go out there and say anything in the world. I get the feeling that many of you, and my Republican colleagues, just don’t believe — or believe you should be free not just from political targeting, but from any scrutiny at all.

At the PJ Tatler, Bryan Preston writes:

Notice, by the way, McDermott’s use of the word “we” in this sentence.

If you didn’t come in and ask for this tax break, we would have never had a question to ask of you.

Who’s “we” in this context? Did McDermott just confess to something?

Meanwhile an interesting — and potentially devastating — story if it pans out: “Conservative group claims it has proof IRS leaked donor list:”

Asked by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., if he had “proof” that the IRS leaked that material, [John Eastman, chairman of the National Organization for Marriage], said that he did.

Eastman explained that while some information was redacted in the posted version, his group’s “forensic” specialists were able to strip layers from the document and found “the original document that was posted there had originated from within the IRS.”

He said the version had “internal IRS stamps,” which “only exist within the IRS.”

Eastman added: “You can imagine our shock and disgust over this. … We jealously guard our donors.”

He later alleged the information was “deliberately” provided to their opponents.

“If that’s inadvertent, the word no longer means anything,” he said, claiming his group has been “stonewalled” in its request for an investigation.

And finally:

As Mark Steyn wrote in his Friday column, the process is the punishment.

(Thumbnail on PJM homepage assembled using a modified Shutterstock.com image.)