Cleta Mitchell: Why the IRS Has Cause To Probe Her Clients

By Pam Martens: June 13, 2013 

Cleta Mitchell is one of the attorneys suing the IRS on behalf of tax-exempt “conservative” groups – the word “conservative” having become a euphemism for corporate money masquerading as free speech. Her baggage is endemic to the real problem. 

The billionaire Koch brothers, majority owners of the big oil, chemicals and paper company, Koch Industries, fund the “conservative” tax- exempt group, Americans for Prosperity, which then morphs into an octopus of other “conservative” tax-exempt groups. 

The Cato Institute, a so-called conservative tax-exempt organization spewing out public policy research with a pro big business agenda, was secretly owned by Charles Koch for 35 years and by David Koch for 20 years, along with a few other men. The secret of billionaires owning a conservative tax-exempt organization, subsidized by you and me, while it pushes a corporate agenda, became public in the spring of last year. We covered it extensively at Wall Street On Parade. 

In 2010, we exposed how a secretive nonprofit group with Charles Koch’s fingerprints all over it bankrolled the tax-exempt Clarion Fund. The nonprofit then used the funds to distribute 28 million DVDs of a race-baiting, Muslim hate film titled “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.” Seven weeks before the Presidential election of 2008, the 28 millions DVDs were inserted into approximately 100 newspapers and magazines in the U.S., including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Miami Herald, Philadelphia Inquirer, and St. Petersburg Times along with a direct mail campaign.  

Cleta Mitchell’s ties to the Kochs and the corporate masquerade are broad and deep as well. Just eight days after U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas voted in favor of the Citizens United decision on January 21, 2010 – a decision which allowed almost unlimited corporate funding of the nation’s elections – Cleta Mitchell, a partner of the law firm Foley & Lardner, filed an application with the IRS for a tax-exempt organization called Liberty Central, another tea party group. Justice Thomas’ wife, Virginia Thomas, was its President and CEO. 

As we reported last month: 

Mitchell was the same lawyer who had filed an Amicus brief in the Citizens United case on behalf of the American Justice Partnership and Let Freedom Ring, supporting the corporate funding of political campaigns.  Mitchell’s law firm, Foley & Lardner, are registered lobbyists for more than two dozen corporations.

Acting as General Counsel in 2010 for Virginia Thomas’ Liberty Central, Inc., was a former lawyer for the Charles G. Koch Foundation, Sarah Field.  A former Koch lobbyist, Matt Schlapp, served on her board at inception.  

Virginia Thomas ran Liberty Central out of a post office box in a UPS building in Burke, Virginia.  It subsequently moved to 12587 Fair Lakes Circle, Suite 331, Fairfax, Virginia, another post office box in another UPS building.  

In 2009 and 2010, unknown donors funneled $1,478,941 into Liberty Central and the money mostly disappeared into undefined salaries and expenses. 

Cleta Mitchell doesn’t have a problem with any of the above. What she has a problem with is the fact that the IRS is taking too long to approve the applications of new tax-exempt groups she represents.

In a fawning weekend interview in the Wall Street Journal last Friday, the newspaper that has shown an insatiable need to pump the IRS story, Mitchell is profiled as the Norma Rae of the right. 

Her clients are “really afraid and the donors are the most afraid.” But she is their avenging angel with the indomitable spirit bestowed on a woman raised in Oklahoma by a strident single mom demanding good grades. 

The Wall Street Journal explains her current quest: “These days, winning for her clients doesn’t necessarily mean collecting big damage awards. She says the harassed conservative groups are more focused on getting the truth out and ensuring that the IRS’s appalling conduct is stopped and never repeated.” 

Understand. Cleta Mitchell wants to stop “appalling conduct.” 

The other legal crusader for the Tea Party is Jay Sekulow, a man who sits at a web of tax-exempt organizations that have paid him, his family and related businesses $40 million since 1998. 

Isn’t it time we stop calling these groups “conservative,” and call them what they are: corporate front groups seeking to drown out the voice of real citizens.

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