The following is the testimony of Catherine Engelbrecht before the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs on February 6, 2014. If you have heard Mrs. Engelbrecht speak before, you know that she is and intelligent and measured, well-spoken person. When you read or listen to the following, you understand that she is up to her eyeballs in intimidation and tyranny and plans to do all possible to stop it, both for her family, her personal business and organizations, as well as all Americans, regardless of party affiliation. By the way, the video is posted by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). The public commenting period on the new and unconstitutional regulations proposed by the IRS, is open until February 27th. You may comment here, and you needn’t leave your name or any contact information. Go here and click the link that says, “Let your voice be heard.” (If you do not have time to read her entire testimony, skip to the red text for the direct actions taken against Engelbrecht and her family)
My name is Catherine Engelbrecht and I am the chairwoman of True the Vote, a non-profit election integrity organization, the Founder of King Street Patriots, a citizen-led liberty group, and president of Engelbrecht Manufacturing.
Thank you for this opportunity to share my story with you today, though at the outset, it must be said that it is a story with a central theme that is shared with countless thousands of other Americans who have not yet been heard from, though I pray that they will be.
It must be made publicly known that across this country, citizens just like me are being targeted by an administration willing to take any action necessary to silence opposition. I am an average American, who prior to 2009 had never been active in the processes of government, but after volunteering to work in the polls in Texas in the 2009 election, I saw fundamental procedural problems that I felt couldn’t go unaddressed, so I started True the Vote, an organization grew into a national movement to ensure that every American voter has an opportunity to participate in elections that are free and fair.
My life, before I got involved and spoke out for good government, stands in stark contrast to the life I now lead. As a wife, a mother, a small business woman working with my husband, raising our children and participating in my church and PTA, the government collected my taxes and left me and my family in peace, but once I helped found True the Vote and King Street Patriots, I found myself a target of this federal government.
Shortly after filing IRS the form to establish 501(3)(c) and (3)(4) tax exempt organizations, an assortment of federal entities, including law enforcement agencies, and Congressman Cummings, came knocking at my door.
In nearly two decades of running our small business, my husband and I never dealt with any government agency outside of filing our annual tax returns. We had never been audited, we had never been investigated, but all that changed upon submitting applications for the non-profit statuses of True the Vote and King Street.
Since that filing in 2010, my private businesses, my non-profit organizations, my family and I have been subjected to more than 15 instances of audit or inquiry by federal agencies.
In 2011, my personal and business tax returns were audited by the Internal Revenue Service, each audit going back for a number of years.
In 2012, my business was subjected to an inspection by OSHA on a select occasion when neither my husband or I were present, and though the agency wrote that they found nothing serious or significant, it still issued fines in excess of $20,000.
In 2012 and in 2013, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms conducted comprehensive audits at my place of business and beginning in 2010, the FBI contacted my non-profit organization on six separate occasions, wanting to cull through membership manifests in conjunction with domestic terrorism cases. They eventually dropped all matters and now have redacted nearly all my files.
All of these incursions into my files began after filing an application for tax exemption. There is no other remarkable event. There is no other reason to explain how, for decades, I went unnoticed, but now find myself on the receiving end of inter-agency co-ordination into and against all facets of my life, both personal and private.
Bear in mind, distinguished ladies and gentlemen of this subcommittee, these events were occurring while the IRS was subjecting me to multiple rounds of abusive inquiries, with request to provide every Facebook and Twitter I had ever posted, questions about my political aspirations and demands to know the names of groups that I had spoken with, the content of what I had said and every word I intended to speak in the coming year.
The answer to these sorts of questions are not of interest to the typical IRS analyst, but they are certainly of interest to a political machine that put its own survival against the civil liberties of a private citizen.
This government attacked me because of my political beliefs, but I refused to be cast as a victim; not to the IRS, not to the FBI, not to OSHA, not to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms or to any other government agency. I am not a victim, because a victim has no options. I do have options and I intend to use them to the fullest extent of my capabilities. As an American citizen, I am a part of a country that still believes in Freedom of Speech, and so I will continue to speak out here in Congress and all across this country, I will continue to press, in every legal way possible, as I did by filing suit against the Internal Revenue Service. No American citizen should be willing to accept a government that uses its power against its own people.
After all the tyranny and the things that have been done to my organizations and to my family and to me, many people would quit, Mr. Chairman, many Americans have quit. I’ve heard over and over that people are afraid to tell their stories, but know this, my experience at the hands of this government the last five years have made me more determined than ever before to stand before you and all Americans and say, I will not retreat, I will not surrender, I will not be intimidated, I will not ask for permission to exercise my constitutional rights. I’ve come before you today, Mr. Chairman, on behalf of Americans just like me, asking for a solution to end this ugly chapter of political intimidation. There was a time when people of good will were encouraged to participate in the processes of government, not targeted because of it.
I applaud your request of the Internal Revenue Service to withdraw a proposed regulation in limiting political speech of non-profit organizations. That action should be taken quickly and without fail, because if it is not, it will effectively codify into law the very thing that brings me here today. If those regulations pass, non-profit organizations across the country will be destroyed. No American, regardless of their political affiliation, should support the silence of political speech.
Beyond ending the proposed IRS regulations, I ask you, I implore you, as representatives of the people of this great nation, to pass a law that protects all citizens of this country from the increasing use of such abusive practices; pass a law that exposes government officials who trample on the rights of ordinary citizens, and not allow them to continue to cower behind the veil of secrecy, abuse of unethical and unfair behavior. Send the president a bill that makes public, at the options of persons and entities regulated, all communication between government and those they regulate — no restricted, redactedly released files. Give us a truly transparent process. Protect the people. Restore liberty to the people, because we will not be silenced. Thank you for this opportunity, Mr. Chairman.
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