(CNSNews.com) – A pro-life group in Iowa was asked by the IRS to have board members of its group sign a letter promising not to protest at Planned Parenthood clinics in order to have its application for tax exempt status approved, according to testimony before the House Ways and Means Committtee on Tuesday.
Susan Martinek, president of the Coalition for Life of Iowa, said at the committee-held hearing on IRS abuses that she was asked about her group’s prayer vigils outside of Planned Parenthood clinics.
“In June of 2009, Ms. Richards (no first name given) told me verbally that we needed to send in a letter with the entire board’s signatures stating that under penalty of perjury we would not picket/protest or organize groups to picket/protest outside of Planned Parenthood,” Martinek said. “Upon receiving such a letter, she indicated that the IRS would allow our application to go through.”
Martinek said her group, which sought 501 (c) (3) status, was also asked more questions about their activities at Planned Parenthood clinics.
“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). 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.’”
Martinek said the group’s application was approved after the Thomas More Society, a legal group, stepped in to help them.
“Fortunately, with their help, and after we submitted a lengthy letter detailing the law and our constitutional rights, the IRS granted us tax-exempt status just one week after our Thomas More Society attorney sent in that letter to IRS Agent Richards,” Martinek said. “No more mention was made of any IRS-required board statement about protesting and picketing outside of Planned Parenthood.”
The other witnesses who testified about their treatment by the IRS in seeking 501 (c) (4) or 501 (c) (3) tax status were Kevin Kookogey, president and founder of Linchpins of Liberty; An American Leadership Development Enterprise; Diane Belsom, president of the Laurens County Tea Party; John Eastman, chairman of the Board, National Organization for Marriage, and Karen Kenney, San Fernando Valley Tea Party; and Becky Gerritson, president of the Wetumpka, Ala. Tea Party.