Opinion
              From left, Jenny Beth Martin, cofounder of the Tea Party Patriots, Jo Anne Livingston, and Darcy Crisp, all of Atlanta, applaud after House Ways and Means Committee member Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill. said the IRS was discriminating, Tuesday, June 4, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington, during the committee

The IRS’s war on women

Photo of Nena Bartlett
Nena Bartlett
Executive Director, Ladies of Liberty Alliance
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      Nena Bartlett

      Nena Bartlett is from Ann Arbor, Michigan and moved to Washington, DC upon completing her Master's degree in diplomacy from Norwich University in Vermont in 2007. She has worked at the Cato Institute and been involved with a number of political campaigns, most recently as assistant campaign manager for Senator Rand Paul. After the 2010 elections, Nena joined Sen. Paul in his Washington, DC office as a Legislative Assistant on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. In 2013, Nena left Capitol Hill to work with LOLA full-time. Nena is active in her community as a founding member and former Treasurer of the DC Liberty Toastmasters, Chair of the Republican Liberty Caucus of DC and the Vice President and Treasurer of the Norwich Alumni DC Chapter.

In April, I wrote the IRS to contest the “automatic revocation” of the tax-exempt status of the Ladies of Liberty Alliance. We had a difficult time getting our non-profit status to begin with, and to have it revoked only months later came as a shock as we had received no warning or prior notification.

During subsequent research, I learned that no appeals process was available, so I was not expecting a response. Nonetheless, in a letter dated May 13, the IRS did write back from their Ogden, Utah branch, but only to confirm the original notice that our tax-exempt status was, in fact, being revoked. Our placement on the list of organizations who have received an Automatic Revocation of Exemption meant that my only option was to pursue the single course of action offered by the IRS – reapplication.

The story broke on May 14 that the IRS was corruptly targeting groups like ours — the day after the Utah branch sent out our response letter. Then a second letter from the IRS, dated May 28, arrived from Cincinnati.

Unlike the others, this letter was personalized and informed me that LOLA had been erroneously placed on the Automatic Revocation of Exemption List.

Without any apology or further explanation, we could forget about reapplying and get back to work. This came as a relief because the Ladies of Liberty Alliance (LOLA) is just starting out and is still a small, all-volunteer organization of women. We were founded in order to bring in more women to the growing libertarian movement and fulfill our mission by providing leadership training that educates and empowers women to spread their own message of liberty. We rely on donated time and meeting space from other non-profits such as the Mercatus Center and the Cato Institute.

Our flagship training is our media training, for which we borrow lights and cameras and film in the Reason Foundation’s library in Washington. We bring in a producer from Fox to instruct and we conduct a filmed interview. We even provide attendees with an edited version of their interview and a head shot to promote themselves to producers for TV. Perhaps if we had called ourselves “Women for Progress,” training sessions like this would not have been slowed down by the IRS.

One organization that has been particularly supportive of us is the Leadership Institute, which trains a variety of conservative and libertarian groups. Reading about how they were singled out and harassed by the IRS made me realize that we may very well have been targeted after all, even though neither of us are affiliated with a political party or take positions on public policy issues.

Was it because attendees of our training sessions generally seek to decrease the size of government and promote free markets and peace? After all, the president’s administration does not support any of these things.