(Photo: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)
The Internal Revenue Service continued to harass pro-life organizations even after the Obama administration promised the targeting of conservative groups would stop, according to documents provided by the Thomas More Society to Congress.
In an updated memo sent Thursday to Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) of the House Ways and Means Committee, Thomas More Society provided over 200 pages of documentation and communications between IRS officials and three pro-life groups: Cherish Life Ministries, LIFE Group, and Emerald Coast Coalition for Life. (The Christian Post was also provided copies of the documents.)
Those three groups were among several that contacted Thomas More Society for legal counsel after Thomas More revealed in early May the harassment of other pro-life groups it represented.
After those revelations and news of the targeting of conservative groups, President Barack Obama addressed the issue in a May 13 press conference. He called the targeting of those groups "outrageous," and said those responsible would "be held fully accountable."
"Despite claims to the contrary, the IRS continues to target and harass pro-life and conservative charities, illegally questioning their religious activities and withholding their tax exemptions," Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel of the Thomas More Society, said in a Thursday press release. "We have now produced irrefutable evidence of six clients whose First Amendment rights were trampled upon by the IRS because of their position upholding the sanctity of life. Even after public disclosure of this wrongdoing, the Obama Administration's IRS has refused to cease its illegal activity. We will continue to aid Congress in its investigation until those responsible are brought to justice and the IRS is made to respect every American's constitutional rights."
Here are a few of the details the memo and documents show:
Cherish Life Ministries
Cherish Life Ministries did not receive its tax exempt status until last Friday, two days after Thomas More Society sent its initial memo to the Ways and Means Committee, and one year and three months after it first applied.
In phone calls last month to CLM, IRS agent R. Medley questioned whether the group should have tax-exempt, 501(c)(3), status because they call for a "continuous prayer presence at the abortion facility."
LIFE Group applied for tax exempt status in March 2012. In February 2013, Medley sent a letter to LG asking if they provided "information regarding other alternatives to 'pro-life?"
After explaining that "any alternatives to pro-life would run directly contrary to the organization's beliefs, mission, and purpose," LG was denied tax exempt status in April. The denial letter stated that the group should apply for 501(c)(4) status instead. After responding to the denial letter with the assistance of legal counsel, LG was granted tax-exempt status in May.
Emerald Coast Coalition for Life
ECCL applied for tax-exempt status in June 2012. In September 2012, the group received a letter from IRS director Lois Lerner, who was recently placed on paid leave as part of the investigation into the IRS targeting of conservative groups.
The letter stated that ECCL's application would require a specialist who would contact them within 90 days. ECCL did not hear from the IRS again until eight months later when it received a letter requesting additional information. The application is still pending.