Every once in a while, we stumble onto a story that sticks with us — a story whose component parts seem so outrageous as to be fictional but whose description of raw Big Brotherly power being used against a single law-abiding citizen makes us fear for our republic.
You’ve likely never heard of Catherine Engelbrecht, and that’s understandable; she hasn’t been in the news in years. But as then-National Review’s Jillian Kay Melchior wrote back in 2013, “Catherine Engelbrecht’s tale has all the markings of a classic conspiracy theory: She says she thinks that because of her peaceful political activity, she and her family were targeted for scrutiny by hostile federal agencies. Yet as news emerges that the Internal Revenue Service wielded its power to obstruct conservative groups, Catherine’s story becomes credible — and chilling. It also raises questions about whether other federal agencies have used their executive powers to target those deemed political enemies.”
Melchior then chronicles this law-abiding Patriot’s ordeal from her founding of an election-integrity organization called True the Vote to her years-long harassment through a series of menacing and punitive visits from various agencies of the Obama administration.
Engelbrecht’s story is one of toughness, though — and ultimately of vindication. As the True the Vote website notes, the organization won a legal victory just last year against the IRS for its unconstitutional discrimination and unethical behavior. “This decision marks the end of a nearly decade long battle that first began in 2010, when federal government agencies including the IRS, DOJ, FBI, ATF, OSHA weaponized against True the Vote and its founder, Catherine Engelbrecht. Under Obama Administration leadership, the agencies leveled a barrage of attacks, including twenty-three audits, investigations, and inquiries, against the group in an attempt to stop their work in election integrity.”
From the beginning until her legal victory, Engelbrecht never wavered. “I testified before Congress and swore that I would never retreat or surrender,” she said. “Today I have fulfilled that oath. Thank you to all the citizens across the country who stood steadfastly beside us. We could not have done it without your support.”
Aside from serving as a cautionary tale of raw government power run amok, Engelbrecht’s story puts the lie to the laughable myth of the “scandal-free” Obama-Biden years. Not that she needed any help. As Kevin Williamson and Victor Davis Hanson (among others) have pointed out, that claim didn’t age well. We now know, beyond any doubt, that those eight years reeked of scandal.
Just imagine the media uproar, for example, if Donald Trump had snubbed and stonewalled the nation’s independent inspectors general the way his predecessor did.
“There is nothing left of the Obama creed of the ‘most scandal-free’ administrant in memory,” wrote VDH. “Before the collusion/obstruction hoax, the Horowitz report, the failed Mueller investigation, and the release of classified information, the public knew well of Fast and Furious, the data surveillance of the AP reporters, the GSA and VA messes, the weaponization of the IRS, the Benghazi mythologies, the Bowe Bergdahl swap, and the echo-chamber silence about the hidden details of the Iran deal. Each time Susan Rice was wheeled out to swear the truth, the public assumed it was a lie. The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
Perhaps worse than all that documented malfeasance, though, was the media’s abdication of its traditional watchdog role. By continually and willfully looking the other way, by failing to hold the Obama-Biden administration to account, the vaunted Fourth Estate failed miserably to protect the Catherine Engelbrechts of the world.
And that’s the sorriest scandal of all.