Freedom's Watch Attorney: I Tried to Warn the IRS

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Saturday, 01 Jun 2013 08:27 PM

By Paul Scicchitano

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The attorney who represented Freedom’s Watch in its two-year battle with the IRS on Saturday tells Newsmax that he tried to alert officials back in 2011 that the tax agency was unfairly targeting his conservative client and its donors.

“Although I did not realize the full implications at the time, it is clear that my allegations of targeting of this conservative group were known by top Exempt Organizations’ officials, and presumably, including Lois Lerner and possibly Steve Miller, in June and July 2011,” asserted Washington, D.C. attorney Jeffrey P. Altman in an interview with Newsmax.

As Newsmax reported on Friday, the IRS targeted the already established Freedom's Watch and its largest donors at the same time it was targeting conservative groups and tea party organizations for added scrutiny, according to former president and CEO Bradley Blakeman.

Speaking in an exclusive interview, Blakeman said that he was also personally targeted by the IRS, but “at the end of the day they got nothing.”

Altman insists that he tried to raise a red flag during a June 16, 2011 conference call with Nannette Downing, then director of Exempt Organizations Examinations and Nancy Marks, then division counsel and associate chief counsel of the Exempt Organizations and Estate & Gift Tax Division.

“I didn’t leave anything out,” he said in communicating his concerns about the targeting of Freedom’s Watch and its donors.

Altman believes the present IRS scandal could have been avoided.

“Although the Freedom’s Watch audit and excess comp claim were favorably resolved, and the gift tax audit notices were rescinded, I don't think the IRS was completely honest with me or Congress,” explained Altman, a partner in the firm Whiteford Taylor & Preston LLP.

Freedom's Watch was formed in 2007 to educate the public for the need for President George W. Bush’s troop surge in Iraq. The organization shut down in 2009, explained Blakeman, who is also a Newsmax contributor and frequent analyst on Fox News.

According to Altman, one letter sent to a Freedom’s Watch donor in 2011 requested that they provide information about all donations they made to any organization in 2008 — not just to Freedom’s Watch.

“It’s the first time in three decades that the IRS had tried to impose gift taxes to donors of (c)(4)s and it was five donors to a conservative organization,” he asserted.

Appearing Saturday on Fox News, Blakeman accused President Obama of “feigning concern” for IRS abuses in targeting groups such as his.

“The president has a feigned response of outrage to this crisis,” said Blakeman, urging that a special prosecutor be appointed to look into the scandal. “In a few of the cases he promotes the people who are the most culpable in targeting political organizations.”

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