CNSNewsATF Director: 'Wish I Had Better Answers' About ATF Agents Probing a Tea Party Conservative
April 3, 2014 - 8:30 AM
By Susan Jones
(CNSNews.com) - B. Todd Jones, director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, couldn't tell Congress why his agents made two visits to a tea party conservative in a 13-month period -- but only after she requested tax-exempt status for her conservative group, True the Vote.
Catherine Engelbrecht had a Federal Firearms License (FFL) for 12 years. "And suddenly she applies for tax exempt status, and you're knocking on her door twice in 13 months," Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told Jones at a hearing on Wednesday.
"Congressman, I wish I had better answers," Jones said.
Jordan noted that ATF generally does FFL compliance inspections only in cases with "high-risk indicators," such as criminal activity -- but none of those indicators applied to Engelbrecht:
"Imagine what this lady felt like," a heated Jordan told Jones.
"She gets the full weight of the federal government coming down on her and her family and her business, and all she's trying to do is get a tax-exempt status that had been routine for 50 years, and suddenly now the federal government (is) saying, no, no, no -- you're not going to get that tax-exempt status, and we're going to send four federal agencies out to harass you, including yours."
In February, Engelbrecht testified that in nearly two decades of running their 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 nonprofit statuses of True the Vote and King Street Patriots."
She says she was audited by the IRS, visited by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), and received more than one inspection visit from ATF and OSHA. "I found myself a target of this federal government," she told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in February.
"Well, it's unfortunate that you and Miss Engelbrecht think it's harassment," Jones told Jordan, speaking of the two visits by ATF agents. "From our perspective, it's part of a regulatory function."
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