We recognize the outstanding work done by the Landmark Legal Foundation in two specific areas in 2013. First, their amicus brief filed in the National Labor Relations Board case, resulting in the court’s opinion that the appointments made by Barack Obama were unconstitutional (see our “Court” corner blog here) and second, Landmark’s demand that the Inspector General’s Office investigate the serious abuse of power allegations against the Internal Revenue Service, discussed below. If only the Inspector General had completed an investigation instead of a light-weight “audit”.
Landmark Legal Foundation’s Effort Resulted in Inspector General’s Involvement
A conservative organization, applying to the Internal Revenue Service for status as a 501(c)(4) corporation contacted Landmark Legal Foundation (“Landmark”) in early 2012. After reviewing the pages long list of information and documents required by the IRS to process their application, well beyond the appropriate level of inquiry and appearing to be intimidating in nature against the applicants, Landmark’s President Mark Levin, contacted the Treasury Inspector General in March 2012 requesting an investigation into the IRS’ misconduct.
At the time Landmark requested the investigation, approximately 20 groups were being targeted for improper treatment. To date, it appears that number is 100 or more (check back for a subsequent post on the Inspector General’s findings).
Specific Examples of Improper IRS Inquiries from Landmark’s Complaint
In its Complaint, Landmark stated:
“Moreover, inquiries about personal associations and political viewpoints are not only inappropriate, but impinge upon constitutionally-protected freedoms of speech and association.”
Specific examples they deemed not pertinent to the permitted activities included:
- Fully describe your youth outreach program with the local school district.
- Provide information regarding the *** County Teen Age Republicans (unnamed to respect privacy) and your relationship.
- Provide a list of all issues that are important to your organization. Indicate your position regarding each issue.
- Provide details regarding your relationship with a certain individual (unnamed to respect privacy).
- Has your organization engaged in any activities with the news media? If so, please describe those activities in further detail and, if available, provide copies of articles printed or transcripts of items aired because of that activity.
The letter goes on to list requests for information regarding the organizations board members, and members of their families; merchandise sale information including a vendor list, cost of each item sold and selling price; the name, address and political affiliation for any training provided to the organizations’ staff; and copies of all newspaper advertisements, press releases, news media interviews, letters to the editor and op-ed pieces related to the organization. (emphasis added)
Landmark went on to state in its Complaint:
“As it has been upheld repeatedly by the Supreme Court, the government cannot regulate political speech with laws that chill permissible speech. Finally, reports that Tea Party-related organizations are being singled out for the IRS’s intrusive inquiries raises serious questions about the propriety of the personnel involved in the evaluation of tax exemption applications.”
Was the Targeting Politically Motivated?
In its closing paragraph, Landmark requested the Inspector General determine whether the IRS employees involved were acting at the direction of any politically motivated superiors. Based on the hearings so far, it appears the answer is yes.