Attorney Cleta Mitchell, a partner in the powerhouse law firm Foley & Lardner LLP, may be familiar to many readers as a frequent guest on FOX News, as a Board Member of the National Rifle Association and as Chair of the American Conservative Union Foundation.
With more than 40 years of experience in law, politics and public policy, Mitchell advises nonprofit and issue organizations, corporations, candidates, campaigns, and individuals on state and federal campaign finance law, election law, and compliance issues related to lobbying, ethics and financial disclosure.
In short – the lady knows her stuff.
Mitchell has practiced in the area of non-profits and exempt organizations for many years. In that regard, she is well familiar with the process the IRS has used in the past to process applications for tax exempt status for nonprofit organizations and has advised many clients seeking 501(c)3 and 501(c)4 tax exempt status from the IRS.
After the May 17, 2013 hearing conducted by the House Ways and Means Committee, at which Acting IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller testified, Mitchell decided to release a memorandum she compiled, “to place into context the manner in which the IRS processed applications for exempt status prior to 2010, what has transpired during this terrible targeting period, and some reactions to the statements and misstatements and misrepresentations of Acting Commissioner Miller last week.” (Emphasis is ours)
The memo is a bombshell detailing how the IRS has made “completely false” claims and that “[T]he Acting Commissioner is not being truthful.”
Mitchell identified a number of “misstatements and misrepresentations” Acting Commissioner Miller made at the House Ways and Means Committee hearing, but two bear particular attention:
"I think that what happened here was that foolish mistakes were made by people who were trying to be more efficient in their workload selection."
Mitchell rightly observes that Miller’s statement hardly describes a “shortcut” or more efficient system: “the decision to change a system that (prior to 2010) might ask 5 to 6 short questions specifically about an application to one that consisted of dozens of questions, necessitating volumes of materials and documents to be filed with the IRS was done in order to 'be more efficient'? Acting Commissioner Miller also spoke about IRS employees 'taking shortcuts'. This was hardly a 'shortcut' when it lengthened the process substantially, as documented in the TIGTA [Inspector General’s] Report.”
“The agency pinpointed two "rogue" employees in the Cincinnati IRS office as being responsible for ‘overly aggressive’ handling of tea party requests for tax-exempt status over the past two years.”
Mitchell states, and documents, that this is “completely false.”
She goes on to detail that “[I]n 2011, at least one of the Cincinnati IRS agents assigned to handle two clients' applications advised me that the Washington, DC office was actively involved in the decisions and processing of my clients' applications for exempt status. This was memorialized in a letter to the agent, Ron Bell, on November 8, 2011. When I called him in December 2011 for an update, he advised me that the applications had been transferred to a special task force in Washington, DC for further review. The effort by senior IRS officials to lay this scheme at the hands of a few low level' IRS employees is despicable and must not be tolerated.” (Emphasis is ours)
Cleta Mitchell is one of Washington’s most prominent election law, government ethics and non-profit organization attorneys. Her memo knocks down once and for all the Obama administration's spin that this was something a couple of "rogue" employees in Cincinnati did years ago.
Now here’s the real bombshell.
The targeting, the slow-walking, the foot dragging on applications from conservative groups, as Mitchell documents, is not in the past tense; it is still going on!
Cleta Mitchell’s memo documents that the political discrimination against conservative and Tea Party organizations “to try to keep them from engaging in legally permissible political speech and association, in violation of the First Amendment” hasn’t stopped and many, many organizations' applications are still locked within the IRS.
Attorney Cleta Mitchell’s conclusion: Congress must take the lead in unraveling the truth behind the spin, misstatements and misrepresentations emanating from the Obama IRS.
“There is much work remaining to be done to ascertain the truth of this matter,” said Mitchell in the conclusion of her memo on the IRS political discrimination against the Tea Party. “The IRS leadership continues to dissemble, deny and obfuscate. Congress and others must obtain internal communications and correspondence from the IRS and interview IRS employees and agents under oath. That should not be delegated to the Department of Justice, which has also been criticized by its Inspector General for unlawful 'ideological and political' considerations in official decision-making.”
To read attorney Cleta Mitchell’s memo “IRS Targeting of Conservative Groups: A History, Overview and Status Report” in its entirety please click the link.