IRS Is 'Political Weapon in the Hands of the Democratic Party,' Conservative Attorney Says

Ali Meyer | September 25, 2014 | 9:47am EDT
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Lois Lerner formerly served as director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division. (AP Photo)

( - Cleta Mitchell, an attorney who has represented conservative groups in lawsuits against the IRS, says we should “repeal the 16th amendment and get rid of the IRS,” which has become “a political weapon in the hands of the Democratic party.”

“What I think we should do is repeal the 16th amendment and get rid of the IRS. I do not believe this agency can be saved; I think it is corrupt to the core," Mitchell told a recent gathering at the Heritage Foundation.

"The thing that has been the most depressing to me in all of this are the stories that I hear from people all over the country, the things that people have written to me and said, ‘This happened to me, they did this to me, they did this to my family, they did this to my business' -- and you know what, I know they’re true,” Mitchell said.

“I know it’s all true and no matter how much Congress is saying they want protect citizens from the IRS, it isn’t happening. So it’s a bully of an agency and it’s become a political weapon in the hands of the Democratic Party. They’ve become the enforcement arm of the Democratic Party.”

Mitchell, who represents True the Vote in its lawsuit against the IRS, believes that the conservative targeting began as a result of groups who specifically were created to fight Obamacare that were popping up before the 2012 elections. Mitchell went on to relay a story of one of the groups she helped file c4 status for with the IRS. This group applied with the IRS for status in October 2009 and did not get approved until July 2013, months after the 2012 election.

“In the fall of 2009, October 2009, I filed an application for (tax-exempt) status for a group that wanted to form to fight Obamacare. And I will always believe, let me tell you something, I will always believe that one of the reasons that this whole thing happened was because suddenly there were all of these organizations arising out of angst among American citizens to fight Obamacare,” Mitchell said.

“Because if you think about what was happening in the late fall of 2009 and in early 2010, that’s what people were talking about, that’s what they were concerned about. And so I applied for (tax-exempt) status for a group, October 2009, plain vanilla lobbying and political activity. They cashed our check because you pay money to apply to the IRS to review your application - didn’t hear anything from the IRS. November, December, January, February – not until June of 2010 did I hear from the IRS about this organization and its application, and when I heard from the IRS, it was not from Cincinnati, which is where all the tax-exempt applications supposedly go. It was from the Washington, D.C. office.

“And what did they want? Mitchell asked. “They wanted something I’d never been asked for before. This organization was asked to provide all of the ads that it had run against Obamacare.”

Mitchell said the request struck her as "odd." She said she submitted the information, but didn't hear from the IRS: "So now we're in 2011. I write a letter saying, you know, here’s the timeline, here is all this organization has done. I’m beginning to think the only reason you haven’t processed and granted this application is because of their fight against government takeover of our healthcare system. I think that you are making a political decision, and if you’re going to deny it, just go ahead and deny it and we’ll start the necessary appeals.

"Well, the next day I have three IRS agents from Washington all on the phone calling me saying ‘oh no, no, no, no’ and I mean this went on for years. They finally got their (c)(4) status in July 2013 -- something that should have taken three weeks maximum.”

Mitchell says Democrats in Congress have urged the IRS to silence and even prosecute conservative groups, and she named names:

“Democrats on the Hill like Carl Levin in the Senate, Sheldon Whitehouse, others -- Chuck Schumer, there’s a whole range of these guys who were constantly beating on the IRS saying why don’t you do something to try to silence these groups?”

She said Sen. Whitehouse (D-R.I.) at one hearing urged the Justice Department Office of Public Integrity to prosecute conservative organizations because he said they were not supposed to be engaging in political activity -- "which is not true," she added.

Asked about Democrats who have dismissed congressional oversight of the IRS as political theater, Mitchell said she doesn't understand why Democrats would side with bureaucrats rather than with the American people.

"They don’t ask questions substantively -- they don’t want to know the facts," Mitchell said of the Democrats. "They have their little talking points and they come in and they say their stuff and then they leave and they’ve done everything they can to try to derail the investigation. And we now know that the Department of Justice and the IRS are both working with the Democrats on the committees to try to undermine the investigations –- we know that,” Mitchell said.

Most recently, the watchdog group Judicial Watch discovered that not only did top IRS officials needlessly solicit donor lists from conservative groups, which led to the targeting of specific donors, but the IRS also referred to the targeting as a “secret research project.”

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