True the Vote President: Cummings Emails 'Tip of an Ugly Iceberg'

Friday, 11 Apr 2014 05:05 PM

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The ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee actively conspired to inappropriately target and silence tea party-affiliated groups, says Catherine Engelbrecht, president of True the Vote.

House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa released emails this week that suggest Rep. Elijah Cummings, Maryland Democrat, prompted the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the conservative organization as it was applying for nonprofit status, according to The Washington Examiner. 

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Engelbrecht told John Bachman and J.D. Hayward of "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV that these emails will undermine claims by Cummings and the IRS that no conservative groups were targeted for political reasons.

"I'm thrilled to see that these documents are seeing the light of day and my current hope is that we continue on in this discovery process because we're only beginning to see what I believe is the tip of a very ugly iceberg," she said.

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Engelbrecht filed a complaint against Cummings in February, charging that he prompted the investigation against True the Vote. Cummings said at the time that those allegations were unequivocally false, but attorney Cleta Mitchell says these new emails back up Engelbrecht's claim.

"Now we find out from these emails released that in fact our request for an investigation really is well placed because [Cummings] was, and his staff, they were having communications with the IRS about True the Vote," said Mitchell, who is representing True the Vote.

Mitchell said the similarities between questions asked of True the Vote by Cummings staffers and IRS officials at separate junctures strongly suggested inappropriate coordination between Cummings and the IRS. Engelbrecht said holding Cummings accountable is important, but the issue goes far beyond him.

"To whatever extent there can be disciplinary action taken, we need to be very serious about taking them, but make no mistake, Elijah Cummings, though very important at this juncture of this discovery in this investigation, is just one of what I believe will be quite an extensive cast of characters that will point to a much vigor, much more orchestrated effort to target and silence private citizens," Engelbrecht said. "He's just one of many."

Mitchell told the "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV, that she was not surprised by the emails about Cummings.

The revelation come two months after Mitchell filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics, seeking a probe of Cummings and his staff to see what role, if any, they played in the targeting of True the Vote and Engelbrecht.

"[Cummings] was very outraged and said that was incorrect, it was not true, and we said, well, we just want an investigation to find out … [He] has been trying to do everything he can to thwart the investigation," Mitchell said.

"Well, guess what? It turns out that when finally … the committee obtains more of [IRS official] Lois Lerner's emails, we find out that, in fact, she was communicating within the IRS about a special request from Cummings' staff saying they had opened their own investigation into True to Vote ...

"He said there was no involvement by him and his staff and that turns out to be a lie."

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Mitchell is keeping her fingers crossed that the Office of Congressional Ethics will do the right thing in regards to True the Vote, which describes itself as "a citizen-led effort to restore truth, faith, and integrity to our elections."

"The Office of Congressional Ethics is a creature created by House resolution for the purpose of allowing people from the general public as well as … members to file complaints requesting an ethics investigation," she said.

"They are supposed to investigate all allegations of violations of House rules by any member or staffer so we supplemented our complaint yesterday by adding this new information, and I hope that they'll proceed.

"You just never know, but I hope that they will conduct an investigation because nobody else can get the actual emails internally from Cummings' staff other than the House Ethics Committee."

Mitchell said a number of targeted groups have still not received the tax-exempt status they have sought.

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