ACLJ Takes on the IRS AGAIN With FOIA Request To Unearth the Biden IRS Targeting of Christians
It’s starting to feel like déjà vu, all over again.
We may have a new Administration, but the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has fallen right back into their same old bad habits that we exposed under President Barack Obama. We’re now seeing the same kind of behavior we fought against years ago rising again with a vengeance; and this time, it’s coming for conservatives AND CHRISTIANS. Perhaps it shouldn’t be so surprising as President Biden was a powerful component of the corrupt Obama-Biden Administration. As the song goes: “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”
Just as the Obama IRS targeted conservative groups like the Tea Party, the “new” Biden IRS is blatantly targeting Christians. The IRS has just recently initially denied the tax-exempt status application of a religious organization – Christians Engaged. The reasons for rejection were both unconstitutional and offensive. The IRS actually stated in their rejection letter that belief in the Bible and prayer were grounds for disqualification:
You educate believers on national issues that are central to their belief in the Bible as the inerrant [Word of God]. You educate Christians in areas where they can be instrumental as in the areas of sanctity of life, the definition of marriage, biblical justice, laws vs. lawlessness, freedom of speech, religious liberty, government and business ethics, human trafficking, fiscal responsibility in government budgeting, defense, borders and immigration, U.S. and Israel relations. The bible teachings are typically affiliated with the [Republican] party and candidates. This disqualifies you from exemption . . . .
If it weren’t so alarming, it would seem cliché. Now that the Left is back in charge, it appears the mandate is to diminish any power, real or perceived, of conservatives. Thankfully after significant backlash in this case and the work of our friends at First Liberty Institute, the IRS ended up granting Christians Engaged its tax-exempt status. It’s clear the IRS only changed course because it was caught, this time.
But this is just one case, which is how the Tea Party cases started. What we are seeing may be just the beginning of the same thing the IRS did under President Obama. As we’ve told you before, when Lois Lerner – former Director of the Exempt Organizations Unit of the Internal Revenue Service under President Obama – emphatically denied any wrongdoing by the Obama FBI, our litigation proved otherwise. It’s important to note that the initial denial letter to the Christian group mentioned above was written by none other than Lerner’s successor at the IRS, Stephen Martin.
As ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow pointed out to Fox News at the time, even the House Ways and Means Committee determined that Obama-devotee Lerner orchestrated the attacks on conservatives and then lied about it:
In particular, the Committee found that Ms. Lerner used her position to improperly influence IRS action against conservative organizations, denying these groups due process and protection rights under the law. The Committee also found she impeded official investigations by providing misleading statements in response to questions from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Finally, Lerner risked exposing, and may have actually disclosed, confidential taxpayer information, in apparent violation of Internal Revenue Code section 6103 by using her personal email to conduct official business.
It took years of tireless effort and litigation, but ultimately the ACLJ was able to win a major victory as the IRS conceded their error, corrected the policies, implemented new procedures, and consented to an injunction in federal court.
And yet, even after we defeated the Deep State IRS for targeting conservatives, we suspected we would have to remain vigilant. Now under this new Administration, it looks like we were right.
That is why, once again, the ACLJ is taking on the IRS, which, this time, is under the command of President Joe Biden. We have just filed a new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, and we’re willing to take the IRS to court again if they refuse to comply.
Our FOIA request asks for any records about a “Be On the Lookout” (BOLO) list sent to or received by the IRS Commissioner or the supervisors of the IRS Exempt Organization Rulings and Agreements Division, or discussed among employees of the Exempt Organizations Division, plus records about the origins of the Christians Engaged BOLO list. These requests are targeted to find the truth.
For example, our FOIA request specifically asks for any records referencing the Bible as part of the IRS’s determination process; and because we don’t want another Lois Lerner-style deleted emails situation, we covered our bases:
All records, communications or briefings created, generated, forwarded, transmitted, sent, shared, saved, received, or reviewed by any IRS official or employee of the Exempt Organizations, Rulings and Agreements division of the IRS, referencing, connected to, or regarding in any way the words “Bible” and “Biblical”, including but not limited to any record located on backup tapes, archives, any other recovery, backup, storage or retrieval system, IRS electronic mail or message accounts, non-IRS electronic mail or message accounts, personal electronic mail or message accounts, IRS servers, non-IRS servers, and personal servers, as well as any electronic mail or message carbon copied to agency account recipients, any electronic mail or message carbon copied to non-agency account recipients, any electronic mail or message forwarded to agency account recipients, any electronic mail or message forwarded to non-agency account recipients, and attachments to any electronic mail or message.
We also requested any reference to a new BOLO list similar to the BOLO lists from the Obama IRS’s targeting of conservatives:
All records, . . . created, . . . by any IRS official or employee of the Exempt Organizations, Rulings and Agreements division of the IRS, referencing, . . . a “Be on the Lookout For” (BOLO) list, including but not limited to any synonyms and their acronyms such as, “beware of,” “look out for,” “be vigilant for,” “oversee,” “be alert for,” “be on alert,” “attend,” “watch out for” and “protect the rule of law” . . . .
These FOIA requests investigate not only how Christians Engaged was improperly targeted for its biblical beliefs, but also whether there are other acts of intimidation or other illegal acts that would show there is a larger, more nefarious targeting of Christians festering in the Biden IRS.
This is how we are taking the fight to the IRS.
It will not be able to act unlawfully in the shadows but will have to look over its shoulder as we bring to light its discriminatory acts – acts we have the legal ability (and the consent decree) with which to hold the Biden IRS accountable in court. The IRS's deadline to respond to our FOIA request is next week. And we’ll be ready to go to court if the IRS tries to withhold or conceal these documents from us.
Thankfully, we aren't the only ones looking into this issue. 13 Senators, led by Sen. James Lankford (OK), just sent a letter to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, the same IG that first investigated the Tea Party targeting, demanding a full investigation into the IRS tax-exempt determination process to ensure that proper measures are put in place to prevent further discrimination against religious organizations. We will be following this investigation closely as well as reporting back to you on our own.