Wagenmaker & Oberly, LLC Co-Founder featured in National Catholic Register’s Article on the IRS’ Mishandling of Exemption Applications for Pro-Life Organizations

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The August 12, 2013 edition of the National Catholic Register reports continuing IRS scrutiny of pro-life organizations, despite the recent public outcry over the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups.  The article featured comments made by attorney Sally Wagenmaker, co-founder of Wagenmaker & Oberly, LLC in Chicago, Illinois, who described her recent experience in representing Cherish Life Ministries in its Form 1023 Application. 

According to the article, “Wagenmaker began speaking with the assigned IRS agent in the Cincinnati office on May 23 — nine days after Obama promised to crack down — and was told Cherish Life Ministries’ application was on “suspension” status.

In a memo submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee July 24, Wagenmaker described the IRS agent’s demeanor throughout the negotiations as “hostile.”

Wagenmaker said the agent “had a hard time letting me talk and provide information to her” and continuously interrogated her about the client’s “prayer presence at the abortion facility.”

Wagenmaker asked the IRS agent why the “prayer presence” would be a problem, given the client’s “First Amendment rights of assembly, free speech and religious liberty. The agent would not respond.”

The article explains how other exempt organizations continue to experience the same resistance at the IRS, just weeks after President Obama promised a response “so that such conduct never happens again.”  The Emerald Coast Coalition’s application for 501(c)(3) status, filed over fourteen months ago, has still not been processed.  Life Runners, in Rapid City, S.D., experienced a fourteen-month waiting period before the exemption was finally granted.  In that time, the organization’s fund raising abilities were significantly hindered due to the IRS delay.

In the article, Attorney Peter Breen, of the Thomas Moore Society, observes: “We know what they have done to our clients.  We just hope there aren’t a lot of small start-up groups out there that have simply given up, and no one will ever hear from them.”

Well-put Mr. Breen.  The actual toll of the IRS scandal is still not fully known.