by Jon Sutz, Editor, SaveTheWest
SaveTheWest recognizes Catherine Engelbrecht , founder and president of True The Vote, as our latest Defender of Western Civilization (previously: Daniel Mael, here). She is the polar opposite of our latest Useful Idiot, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (recognized here), for reasons that will become apparent as this article unfolds.
Until 2009, Engelbrecht, a business owner in Houston, TX, had never interacted with any federal agency. Then, however, she heard rumors about voting irregularities in her district, and volunteered to work at the polls on election day. She completed a volunteer training seminar, during which she becoming acquainted with the laws concerning voting procedures. At the polling station she worked on election day 2009, Engelbrecht claims she witnessed tremendous deviations from those lawful procedures, which were being facilitated by polling station officials, that she believed could lead to massive election fraud.
She reported her findings to the local elections authority, the Harris County Voter Registrar, which investigated the matter.
Act 1 of a routine Hollywood “whistleblower” movie
The voting fraud discovered as a result of the investigation that Engelbrecht’s complaints triggered would make any patriotic citizen’s blood boil – and in a normal scenario, would serve as “Act 1” of a Hollywood “whistleblower” movie. Just a few of the findings:
- One person submitted 1,597 voting applications – in the same name.
- Six people applied to vote using the same address – a vacant lot.
- Of 25,000 voting applications, only 7,193 were found to be legitimate.
Engelbrecht then helped to organize a group of other concerned citizens in her neighborhood, who began calling themselves the King Street Patriots. The more they dug, the more fraud they discovered and documented, including:
- Election judges who told people who they should and should not vote for.
- People being allowed to vote without any form of identification.
- Massive accounts of fraudulent voting applications being submitted. (Most of these applications were found to be the work of two “social welfare” organizations affiliated with ACORN, the federally-funded “community organizing” group that was closed down in 2010, after its massive corruption and election fraud practices were exposed, including its willingness to help create taxpayer-backed brothels for underage sex slaves.)
In all, Engelbrecht and her fellow volunteers filed 800 complaints, listed here. Then, having gotten an indication of how widespread election fraud is being perpetrated in America, she then applied with the IRS to to create a larger, tax-exempt organization, True The Vote (truethevote.org), that would help educate citizens nationwide on the problems she discovered, and work to develop and implement solutions.
In a broader sense, Engelbrecht and her colleagues did exactly what our Founders knew would be required to preserve our free, self-governing republic: they got personally involved, taking time away from their families and work obligations to help ensure the preservation of our freedoms, and our right to electoral integrity.
In any other time in recent American history, a person with Engelbrecht’s character, fortitude and courage would be viewed as a hero, like the lonely crusaders who are glowingly depicted in Hollywood whistleblower movies such as “Erin Brockovich,” “Silkwood” and “The Insider.”
Act 2: A hero is cast as a villain, and terrorized by the very government that is sworn to protect her rights
What happened to Engelbrecht next, however, was a real-life version of the “Act 2” that happens in by-the-numbers Hollywood whistleblower movies: instead of being respected, the federal government bore down on Engelbrecht in ways that would send chills down the spine of anyone even remotely familiar with, and supportive of the U.S. Constitution.
According to Engelbrecht’s Congressional testimony on February 6, 2014 (text; video):
“My life before I spoke out for good government stands in stark contrast to the life I now lead. As a wife, a mother, and small businesswoman working with my husband, raising our children and participating in my church and PTA, the government collected my taxes and left me and my family in peace.
“But when I helped found and led True the Vote and King Street Patriots, I found myself a target of this federal government. Shortly after filing IRS forms to establish 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organizations, an assortment of federal entities – including law enforcement agencies and a Congressman from Maryland, Elijah Cummings – came knocking at my door.
“In nearly two decades of running our 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 non-profit statuses of True the Vote and King Street Patriots.
“Since that filing in 2010, my private businesses, my nonprofit organizations, and family have been subjected to more than 15 instances of audit or inquiry by federal agencies.
“In 2011, my personal and business tax returns were audited by the Internal Revenue Service, each audit going back for a number of years.
“In 2012, my business was subjected to inspection by OSHA, on a select occasion when neither my husband nor I were present, and though the agency wrote that it found nothing serious or significant, it still issued fines in excess of $20,000.
“In 2012 and again in 2013 the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms conducted comprehensive audits at my place business.
“Beginning in 2010, the FBI contacted my nonprofit organization on six separate occasions – wanting to cull through membership manifests in conjunction with domestic terrorism cases. They eventually dropped all matters and have now redacted nearly all my files.”
In a rational universe, these events would have triggered a typical Act 3 in our Hollywood whistleblower docudrama. Motion picture power-players who claim to cherish freedom would be coming out of the woodwork to champion Engelbrecht’s cause, and be donating millions of dollars to a legal defense fund for her. A-list actresses would be lining up to play her in docudramas about her experiences. She would be shuttled out to Hollywood on private jets, to have lunches at fancy restaurants with top producers. She would be celebrated on “Oprah” and “The View” and MTV, and held up as an model of female empowerment, and as a living, breathing example of Thomas Paine’s adage:
“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”
After all, we are delivered a regular dose of hero-worship from those who make our movies, TV shows, newspapers and Internet media, about innocent victims who are terrorized by powers-that-be that possess a never-ending lust to control our lives.
In Engelbrecht’s case, however, it was not an evil corporation, or a mad scientist, or a terror cell that was turning her life into a nightmare – but rather, the very government that was chartered and empowered to uphold the very freedoms that she was exercising.
Were Engelbrecht on any other civic mission, that version of our “Act 3” might well have played out as described above.
Act 3: Hollywood and major “news” organizations are either silent, or join in on the jihad of smears against Engelbrecht
But because Engelbrecht sounded an alarm about massive voting fraud being perpetrated on the American people, by supposed “social justice” organizations, all of whom were affiliated with one political party, the powerful entities that champion the causes of other victims of retaliation actually joined in on the veritable jihad to destroy her:
ABC’s venerable “Nightline” program gave voice to insinuations that Engelbrecht is a racist; specifically, that she is motivated by a desire to prevent black Americans and other minorities from voting.
- The radical leftist, Soros-funded People for the American Way’s “RightWingWatch” website smeared Engelbrecht as a “voter suppression advocate,” and her organization True The Vote as a “vigilante group.”
- The Huffington Post accused True The Vote of existing “to inspect black and latino polling places.”
- The Daily Kos alleged “True the Vote is training thousands of people to disenfranchise voters based on racism, paranoia and fantasy.”
The victim stands firm
Undeterred, Engelbrecht testified to Congress – and to the face of the Congressman who had begun personally harassing her, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) – that she will not be intimidated, and will not stop her work. Continuing, from her February 6, 2014 testimony (text; video):
“This government attacked me because of my political beliefs, but I refuse to be cast as a victim; not to the IRS, not to the FBI, not to OSHA, not to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, or to any other government agency. I am not a victim, because to be a victim is to accept that I have no options. I do have options and I intend to use them all to the fullest extent of my capabilities.
“As an American citizen, I am part of a country that still believes in freedom of speech, and so I will continue to speak out; here in Congress and all across this country, I will continue to press in every legal way possible, as I did by filing suit against the Internal Revenue Service. No American citizen should be willing to accept a government that uses its power against its own people.
“I also refuse to let a precedent be set that allows Members of Congress, particularly the Ranking Member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, to misrepresent this governing body in an effort to demonize and intimidate citizens.
“Three times, Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD) sent letters to True the Vote, demanding much of the same information that the IRS had requested. Hours after sending letters, he would appear on cable news and publicly defame me and my organization. Such tactics are unacceptable. It is for these reasons that immediately after this hearing I am filing a formal complaint with the House Office of Congressional Ethics and asking for a full investigation.
“After all the tyranny, all the things that have been done to my organizations, to my family and to me; many people would have quit. And, Mr. Chairman, many Americans have quit. I have heard, over and over, that people are afraid to tell their stories because of what has or might happen to them and their families at the hands of our own government.
“But know this, my experiences at the hands of this government in these last five years have made me more determined than ever to stand before you and America and say I will not retreat. I will not surrender. I refuse to be intimidated. I will not ask for permission to exercise my Constitutional rights.
Read the rest of Engelbrecht’s testimony here (watch video here).
Engelbrecht and True The Vote were only the tip of the iceberg
In May 2013, news broke that what happened to Engelbrecht and True The Vote was not an isolated incident; rather, it was part of a consistent pattern of behavior by the IRS to harass and effectively terrorize nonprofit applicants that could be considered “conservative” (those that seek to uphold the rule of law, individual liberty, constitutional government and fiscal prudence). It was discovered that True The Vote was one of nearly 300 organizations that were harassed in a similar manner by the IRS and other federal agencies.
Shortly thereafter, True The Vote filed a lawsuit against the IRS, to recover the estimated $90,000 in attorney fees and other expenses that it had incurred as a result of the IRS’s actions. In October 2014, however, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, claiming that the IRS had finally authorized True The Vote’s nonprofit status, effectively remedying the situation.
Other troubling aspects of this scandal emerged throughout 2014:
In May 2014, the key IRS figure behind this targeting scandal, Lois Lerner, refused to testify before Congress as to what occurred. In response, the Congressional committee that sought her testimony filed contempt charges against her. On April 1, 2015, the Department of Justice announced that it would not prosecute her.
- In June 2014, it was discovered that the hard drives containing nearly two years of Lerner’s and other key IRS figures’ emails mysteriously crashed – and before data-recovery procedures were even attempted, the drives were destroyed.
- In late December 2014, the Heritage Foundation produced a comprehensive report that pulls back even more layers in this scandal, such as evidence of including collusion between various federal agencies to target “icky” nonprofit applicants.
- On February 18, 2015, True The Vote delivered a letter to Congress, requesting its assistance in obtaining internal documents from the IRS that will shed light onto the full extent of how it and other nonprofits were targeted.
This is what being a SaveTheWest.com Defender of Western Civilization is all about
We cannot compel Hollywood power-players or the “news” media to champion Engelbrecht as they would any woman – or indeed, any person – who faced less-severe peril, but for a cause they endorsed. Nor can we compel them to at least use their considerable influence to ask the smear merchants who are now engaged in a jihad to destroy her, to back off. Through their silence, they have made their loyalties, and true characters, indelibly apparent.
But what we at SaveTheWest can do is give Catherine Engelbrecht our highest honor, by recognizing her as one of our Defenders of Western Civilization.
Learn more about True The Vote, and donate to support its work, at TrueTheVote.org.
(For contrast, read the profile of our latest Useful Idiot, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who earned this designation by leading the charge to create the “NYCID” program, which makes it far easier for illegal aliens and potential terrorists to live in NYC.
“Allegations of voter fraud in Harris County,” ABC13 News (Houston, TX), August 24, 2010.
“Voter ID Laws: Racist or Reasonable?,” by Brandon Darby, Breitbart.com, April 13, 2012.
“True The Vote, Tea Party-Connected Group, Trying To Build ‘Poll Watching’ Network To Inspect Black And Latino Polling Places,” by Brentin Mock, The Huffington Post, August 27, 2012.
“The Left’s War on True the Vote and Catherine Engelbrecht: Where It All Began,” by Brandon Darby, Breitbart.com, November 1, 2012.
“ABC News Targets Group Fighting Voter Fraud, Hints at Racial Motive,” by Scott Whitlock, Media Research Center, November 2, 2012.
“IRS admits targeting conservatives for tax scrutiny in 2012 election,” By Zachary A. Goldfarb and Karen Tumulty, Washington Post, May 10, 2013.
“True the Vote Files Suit Against the IRS,” by Ian Tuttle, National Review, May 21, 2013.
Testimony of Catherine Engelbrecht House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform “The IRS Targeting Investigation: What is the Administration Doing?” February 6, 2014.
“Lois Lerner pleads the fifth again, doesn’t testify on IRS targeting,” by Rebecca Kaplan, CBS News, March 5, 2014.
“Even if accidental, the loss of Lois Lerner’s e-mails is evidence of problems at the IRS,” by Jonathan H. Adler, The Washington Post, June 17, 2014.
“True the Vote’s Lawsuit Against IRS Gets Tossed by Federal Judge,” by Sarah Rumpf, Breitbart.com, October 23, 2014.
“4 Things You Need to Know About the Findings on the IRS Targeting Scandal,” by Melissa Quinn, The Daily Signal (Heritage Foundation), December 23, 2014.
“Request for assistance in retrieving IRS documents pertaining to True the Vote et al,” True The Vote letter to Congress, February 18, 2015.
“No contempt of Congress charges against Lois Lerner,” by Evan Perez, CNN, April 1, 2015.