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The shocking interrogation of Catherine Engelbrecht

During a House Oversight And Government Reform Committee hearing on IRS targeting Thursday, Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of True the Vote, was harshly interrogated by Rep. Elijah Cummings.

Rep. Elijah Cummings during house hearing on IRS targeting
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Cummings offered the standard assurances that he cares about the targeting of conservatives by the Internal Revenue Service before he started grilling her for the remainder of his time on activities her organization conducted during the 2012 election.

Quoting from a "report" from the laughably partisan "Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights," Rep. Cummings made all sorts of wild claims about Engelbrecht's organization.

A cursory glance at the Institute's website reveals an obsessive focus on the Tea Party's alleged racism.

Cummings said that True the Vote assigned "poll watchers" who "aggressively challenge[d] the registration, the identity, or the eligibility of prospective voters." He additionally said that poll watchers were assigned by True the Vote to areas where the minority populations were most concentrated.

Engelbrecht, visibly confused, said that her group does not "assign poll watchers" to certain areas. Rather, members are trained in how the "electoral process works" and will "choose the party or candidate of their choice to work on behalf of [the candidate or party]." She said that based on this false premise, the report Cummings cited was "fundamentally flawed."

Cummings, who did not seem to care that Engelbrecht had already been targeted and victimized by numerous government agencies, as reported by Becket Adams of theBlaze, doubled down on his line of questioning, while the chamber remained silent.

Although Engelbrecht had already made it perfectly clear that her organization does not assign poll watchers to certain areas, Cummings continued to cite the fake report and repeated the charges.

In fact, the authors of the very report cited by Cummings, Devin Burghart and Leonard Zeskind also "exposed" alleged links between "certain Tea Party factions and acknowledged racist hate groups," for the NAACP in 2010, as reported by Jack Cashill at the American Thinker, who writes wryly that Zeskind "could find racists in each of the nine choirs of angels and feel comfortable designating at least three of those choirs as hate groups."

At the time, Burghart and Zeskind wrote in part that Tea Party members were

"defending their special pale-skinned privileges and power."

Some of Burghart and Zeskind's other highlighted works include such reports as "CPAC and Bigotry: Who is in and Who is Out," and ".223 Ammo and a Day of Tea Party Rallies."

Zeskind has also "denounced the American military 'as a tool of U.S. Imperialism,'" as reported by Meredith Jessup of theBlaze.

Rep. Elijah Cummings used this report to doubly victimize Catherine Engelbrecht. The smear piece also touted Cummings himself, cheering on the Congressman in 2012 for personally targeting "True the Vote."

The interrogation did not stop there, however. As reported by Becket Adams of theBlaze, Rep. Gerry Connolly also interrogated Engelbrecht about her claim that after she applied for non-profit status, she was harassed by multiple government agencies on numerous occasions, including the FBI, ATF, the IRS, and OSHA as discussed in detail at Forbes.

Connolly was interrupted by Rep. Jim Jordan, who engaged in a very revealing exchange with Engelbrecht, as reported by Adams:

“Ms. Engelbrecht,” Jordan said, “in the first 20 years of business, did OSHA ever visit your place of business?”

“No sir,” she responded.

“Never once?”

“No sir.”

“After you filed the [tax-exempt application for King Street Patriots], OSHA visited then, right?”

“Yes sir.”

“In the first 20 years of business did the [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] ever come to your business?” Jordan continued.

“No sir.”

“And they came a couple times once you filed your application?”

“Yes sir.”

“And in your first 20 years of business, did the IRS ever audit you?”

“No sir.”

“But once you filed your application, they audited you?”

“Many times.”

“And in your first 20 years of business, did the FBI ever visit you?”

“No sir.”

“But once you filed your application, did they visit you?”

“Six times.”

Jordan made his final point: “Mr. Connolly wants us to believes that’s all a coincidence.”

Rep. Connolly would not budge, however, and said that "paranoia" is no substitute for "fact-based, empirical oversight." Connelly then slammed Jordan by saying "You should be on the panel given...your views," revealing his bias against conservatives.

Watch the must-see video here.

Katie Pavlich of TownHall wrote about Catherine Engelbrecht's response to the attack, saying in part that in the wake of the egregious behavior during the hearing,

"Engelbrecht and her attorney Cleta Mitchell filed a complaint against Democratic Ranking Member Elijah Cummings for his intimidation and singling out of True the Vote."

Sadly, the hearing to get to the bottom of IRS targeting of conservative groups devolved into a partisan circus, where the panel members were yet again, the focus of government intimidation based on their political beliefs.

Follow Renee Nal on Twitter @ReneeNal and Facebook.

Check out her news and political commentary on Liberty Unyielding, Gather and TavernKeepers.com for news you won't find in the mainstream media. Renee is also a guest blogger for the Shire Blog.