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Fitzgibbons Recounts the Harassment of Martha Boneta

We urge you to go to this page on the Virginia Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) website to post your comments in support of the Boneta Bill and the goal of enacting legislation to hold public officials accountable if they engage in the kind of harassment Martha Boneta has suffered at the hands of Fauquier County Virginia’s zoning authorities.

Martha Boneta
During his efforts to help feisty farmer Martha Boneta fight the abusive and intrusive actions by Virginia’s Fauquier County zoning authorities for the alleged zoning violations she committed by hosting a birthday party for eight 10-year-old girls without a permit and a site plan for events at her farm, attorney and CHQ contributor Mark J. Fitzgibbons has uncovered an astonishing series of “coincidences” that should give pause to every American during this Fourth of July week.

For those not steeped in the details of the ongoing saga of Ms. Boneta’s fight to peaceably farm her property in Virginia’s Fauquier County, we should note that she still faces potential fines of $5,000 per violation per day, and has tended to shy away from the media spotlight.

As Fitgibbons recounted in an article for World Net Daily, Boneta was finally coaxed by her supporters to appear on “Fox & Friends” to discuss legislation (the Boneta Bill) that had been introduced in the Virginia General Assembly in January to provide remedies for farmers when local government officials abuse their authority.

It turns out that at the same time she was suffering harassment by Fauquier County zoning authorities, Ms. Boneta was also being audited by the IRS.

What’s the nexus between zoning and the IRS you might ask?

It is, according to investigative journalist Kevin Mooney of Watchdog.com, one Margaret “Peggy” Richardson, former IRS Commissioner and Board member of the Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC), a nonprofit organization that has come to be known for its anti-property-rights agenda.

As Fitzgibbons noted, during Richardson’s reign at the IRS, dozens of conservative organizations such as Heritage Foundation, the National Rifle Association, and World Net Daily’s then-parent entity, the Western Journalism Center, were audited.

Mooney’s reporting for Watchdog.com about the questionable timing of the audit coming on the heels of Mrs. Boneta’s legal disputes with the PEC and Fauquier County elicited a dismissive comment from Richardson who said, “Coincidences do happen,” and rejected the idea that Boneta’s audit was the result of a coordinated effort.

The facts, as pieced together by Fitzgibbons, however indicate that the audit of Martha Boneta is no mere coincidence.

Martha Boneta recounted how certain questions asked by the IRS auditor were eerily close to issues in her disputes with the PEC and Fauquier County.

For instance, the IRS asked about whether she was providing a boarding facility at her farm.

Each year, college students on spring break go to Boneta’s farm to learn about organic farming. Martha and many of the students would also pray over the animals.

Both the PEC and Fauquier County alleged that these students constituted boarders in violation of the easement and county ordinances. The allegations were frivolous, but provided fodder for the PEC and the county to harass Boneta.

But the facts documented by Boneta and Fitzgibbons get even less coincidental.

The notice of IRS audit was issued on July 19 of last year. Investigating the county’s harassment of Martha Boneta, Fitzgibbons met with a Fauquier official on Saturday, July 21, nearly a week before Boneta knew of the audit.

The county official is formerly a board member of the PEC and lives next door to Peggy Richardson. Emails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) show he directed county actions against Ms. Boneta.

In his attempt to convince Fitzgibbons that the county was acting justifiably against Martha Boneta, the official told attorney Mark Fitzgibbons that Boneta’s taxes were being audited.

As Fitzgibbons noted in his WND piece, disclosure of an IRS audit automatically constitutes a civil violation, and if done willfully, it constitutes a felony. The county official provided probable cause that someone had leaked the audit to him.

Other emails obtained under Virginia’s FOIA show that county officials were collaborating with the PEC in opposition to the Boneta Bill and with a variety of people in the county to keep tabs on Martha Boneta.

After Boneta hosted a viewing of a film on private property rights in November 2012, this same county official received an email saying, “I thought that it was your turn to keep an eye on the nuts.”

In Fitzgibbons' view, it’s time for subpoenas to start flying.

And we agree, but it is also time for those who care, not just about property rights, but about the essential American concept of liberty – the right to simply be left alone to peaceably manage one’s own affairs – to step-up and help Martha Boneta and her allies in the Virginia state legislature pass the Boneta Bill.

The Virginia Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) has formed a group to study the Boneta Bill and make recommendations to the General Assembly. The VDACS homepage features this study, and allows people to comment. There is also a petition circulating nationally featuring the resolution adopted by the Virginia GOP in support of property rights, and it is posted at the site with all the Virginians signing. We urge you to go to this page to post your comments in support of the Boneta Bill and the goal of enacting legislation to hold public officials accountable if they engage in the kind of harassment Martha Boneta has suffered at the hands of Fauquier County Virginia’s zoning authorities.

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