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IRS Also Targeted Catholic Professor, Prolife Groups


The IRS targeted applications with phrases like "tea party", "9/12", and "patriots"

Brantly Millegan - published on 05/15/13 - updated on 06/07/17

Catholic professor had written negatively of Obama, says she was so scared she hasn't written since

A Catholic professor and pro-life organizations have alleged they were unfairly treated and harrassed by IRS agents in recent years. The accusations come just days after Michael McKenney, Acting Inspector General of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), released his findings in an investigation that the agency has targeted politically conservative groups since mid-2010. A "Be On the Lookout" list had been compiled, which instructed auditers to give special scrutiny to groups with keywords like "tea party", "9/12", and "taxes".

The Blaze reports that Dr. Anne Hendershott,Professor of Psychology, Sociology, and Social Work at Franciscan University of Steubenville, received strange treatment from an IRS auditer in 2010. An IRS agent called her in May of that year and informed her that they would be auditing "her business" and wanted to know who was paying her and "what their politics were". Hendershott told the agent she did not have a business. The agent clarified that they wanted to know more about her writing.

Hendershott told the Blaze that she occasionally freelances for various Catholic publications and the Wall Street Journal but is paid very little and often makes no profit from it. She said she has regularly written negatively of President Obama and various liberal groups including Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Catholics United, and Catholic Democrats. Just a few months before she was contacted by the IRS, she had written an article alleging that Chris Korzen, a co-founder of the liberal group Catholics United, was secretly receiving money from George Soros.

She and her husband file taxes jointly, but the IRS agent only wanted to audit her, and told her that her husband could not attend their meetings. Regarding their meeting, The Blaze reports:

The process was a grueling one, including many questions that Hendershott felt were political in nature. Numerous records were requested before the in-person meeting, as well as during and after. […] While asking about the deposits, the agent wanted to know if the monies came from groups and, if so, what the organizations’ politics were.

Though she has no proof, Hendershott suspects she was targeted because of the content of her writing.

“I haven’t written for [the Catholic advocate] since the audit, because I was so scared,” she told the Blaze.

Prolife groups also are claiming they have been harrassed by IRS agents in recent years. According to WorldNetDaily, Peter Shinn of Cherish Life Ministries was told by an IRS agent that his organization did not qualify for non-profit status because it did not present pro-abortion arguments alongside pro-life arguments. Shinn says the IRS agent accused him of being a political organization.

“I asked her why she said we were political organization and she said it was because we had said in our application that we did less than 5 percent political activity," he said. "She did get nervous though in the end when I pressed her that I wanted specific information about why I had to educate from a pro-abortion perspective not just pro-life. I explained to her that the Pro-Life Action League even has pro-life in their title and they certainly don’t teach pro-abortion topics and they are still 501(c)(3). I also told her that Planned Parenthood does not teach about pro-life issues yet they are also still a 501(c)(3)."

But it gets worse. Shinn also claims that the IRS had rewritten his proposed bylaws “to paint our organization as a political organization. I couldn’t believe they took it upon themselves to do that,” he told WorldNetDaily.

The prolife news agency LifeNews reports that the Coalition for Life of Iowa, a prolife watchdog organization of Planned Parenthood in Iowa, was told they could not receive non-profit status unless "it agreed to limit its "picketing" and "protesting" of Planned Parenthood."

The Thomas More Society of Chicago came to the group's defense. Thomas Brejcha, president and chief counsel for the Thomas More Society, told LifeNews, "The IRS not only erroneously forbade the Coalition for Life of Iowa from engaging in ‘advocacy’ as a section 501(c)(3) non-profit organization; they also never gave any explanation as to why their request was relevant."

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