Interviews

Romney donor claims he was unfairly targeted by IRS

Audited after coming under attack by Obama camp

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," May 14, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Meanwhile, first on Fox, enter Frank VanderSloot. You remember him, right, the Idaho businessman singled out by the Obama campaign last year for giving one million dollars in support of Mitt Romney, later becoming the focus of three different audits, two from the IRS, one from the Labor Department.

Welcome, Frank.

I remember at the time you saying that these investigations were maybe just coincidence, but the timing was peculiar. What do you make of what you were going through and now hearing what you're hearing today?

FRANK VANDERSLOOT, CEO, MELALEUCA: Well, it's interesting, isn't it, that conservatives were being targeted, evidently by the IRS and perhaps other agencies as well.

For me, well, I think it was just a year and three days ago that you had me on your show. And all we knew then is that I had been listed on this list of eight individuals by President Obama's campaign. It later became known as President Obama's enemies list.

CAVUTO: Right.

VANDERSLOOT: And...

CAVUTO: This one had only eight individuals on it, and you were one of them.

But what got you on that list was your -- your -- what they considered to be your striking conservative views. That shouldn't matter to anyone. But I think what mattered to me was how quickly soon afterwards audits started popping up, investigations started popping up. You had to defend your honor. You were completely exonerated. The audits went nowhere, I guess, but you spent a lot of money trying to get your good name back. Right?

VANDERSLOOT: We did.

What had happened, we made a substantial donation to one of Mitt Romney's supporters, one of the Super PACs. And...

CAVUTO: About a million dollars, right?

VANDERSLOOT: It was about a million dollars.

And, of course, originally, the liberal press picked that up and then right after that President Obama came out with his list of donors. There are thousands of donors. He picked out eight.

CAVUTO: Right.

VANDERSLOOT: Some of them were not...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: There were no similar lists gathered about generous Democratic donors. But leave that aside.

VANDERSLOOT: I think this is the first time a president of the United States has ever done that. He listed eight donors. Why eight? I suspect because you can't go after thousands.

And as soon as that happened, I knew that a target had been nailed on my back. I didn't know what was going to happen, but that's when you had me on your show and you said, well, what about this? And we didn't know.

CAVUTO: Now, how soon was the first audit?

VANDERSLOOT: The first audit -- the first audit happened eight weeks after the president's list came out.

CAVUTO: OK. And then there was a second audit and a Labor Department audit.

VANDERSLOOT: It was an IRS audit first, followed a few weeks later by the Department of Labor audit, followed then less than two months later by another IRS audit.

CAVUTO: Now, obviously, these are matters that you're free to discuss or not. I don't want to get into details. If you don't want to answer, you don't have to.

What kind of information, Frank, were they after? Let's say the IRS first.

(CROSSTALK)

VANDERSLOOT: The IRS was auditing my tax returns.

CAVUTO: You as an individual?

VANDERSLOOT: Me as an individual first and then one of my companies second.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: And now you have heard about some of the questions they were asking these various conservative groups. Were they that involved in detail with you?

VANDERSLOOT: No.

CAVUTO: I mean, 50-some-odd questions they were asking them.

VANDERSLOOT: No.

CAVUTO: What kind of stuff were they trying to ascertain?

VANDERSLOOT: They -- they were just after my taxes. That's what they were after.

CAVUTO: You were fully exonerated. You didn't have to pay any extra?

VANDERSLOOT: No -- no change, no penalties, no fines, no change in my taxes.

CAVUTO: But just to defend yourself, you spent tens of thousands of dollars.

VANDERSLOOT: Almost $80,000.

CAVUTO: Eighty thousand dollars.

VANDERSLOOT: Per three audit. It was about $25,000 per audit.

CAVUTO: Now come along to this picking on conservative groups, raising a lot of questions about their tax exemption status, how many organizations they were reaching out to, how many individuals they were reaching out to.

Do you find this coincidental? Part of a pattern? What?

VANDERSLOOT: Well, gosh, I don't know.

I mean...

CAVUTO: Well, what do you think?

VANDERSLOOT: Well, I hope it's just coincidence, because the kind of country I would like America to be, I don't -- I don't want us to become one of these Third World countries where you have to worry about your back all the time if you disagree with who is in charge.

I think that's particularly dangerous for us to enter into that era. And it's -- so when I came out and said, a year ago, when President Obama tacks a target to my back and he makes this list of eight people, who is supposed to be paying attention? Is it just the liberal press that is supposed to come out and ruin our reputations and say all these things about it -- which happened. Hundreds and hundreds of articles, started by Mother Jones and then followed up with -- and actually they did theirs before the president's list. But right after the president's list, hundreds of articles telling one mistruth, unwanted truth after another after another. It was a swarm coming at us. And we couldn't swat the lies down fast enough, with the Internet and all the repetitions. But then President Obama comes out -- of course, right before then, he comes out with the list, and then comes the audits.

So, when I said who is supposed to be paying attention? Is it just the liberal mess or do we expect the federal agencies to be paying attention? Are they going to come after us, too, the eight of us? I didn't know the answer. I didn't have to wait very long. I found out the answer. Yes, they're coming.

CAVUTO: Do you think that these were just some rogue agents or district heads who decided to look after wealthy conservative groups and/or individuals like you, or do you suspect that they were getting orders from higher up?

VANDERSLOOT: I don't know. I mean, I don't know.

CAVUTO: Well, I mean, I find it odd that -- I remember that list when you popped up on it. And I think I even told you, I said, well, it is just a matter of time, just a matter of time.

VANDERSLOOT: Yes.

Well, he said -- or his campaign said this about the eight of us. "They have less than reputable records and they have been on the wrong side of the law."

None of that was true about me, and I don't think it was true about any of us. My issue probably is, yes, let's see if the IRS targeted us because of that. Did they seek us out because of the list? It came awful fast, and one right after another after another.

But I think the error was made when the president made the list. I don't think he called them up and said, go get them. He doesn't have to. He has got an army of people that want to please him, whether it's his agencies or whether it's the liberal press. All he has to do is make the list. And I think it was egregious.

CAVUTO: But, a year ago, you were Captain Bligh.

Now, you were completely exonerated. And I always think of you and remember the former Labor Secretary Ray Donovan, Ronald Reagan's -- Ray Donovan, who was found innocent of all these -- there were dozens of various charges that were thrown against him. And he famously asked, how do I get my good name back, or that effect.

What about you? Bitter? Angry?

VANDERSLOOT: No. Hopeful that our country will not continue to go down that path, and hopeful that we will have leaders of our country that will make sure that we don't go that path, down that path.

I think it's unfair for President Obama to nail the target up there, and then say, well, if people have to shoot at the target, that now I'm going to go after. I think what he said yesterday, he's going to hold them accountable.

I don't think it's fair. Sure, I hope he does go after them.

But...

CAVUTO: Do you think he will?

VANDERSLOOT: I mean, we will see. We will see.

CAVUTO: OK.

VANDERSLOOT: But it's unfair maybe. They're doing -- he has to expect they're going to do something when he puts the list up there.

So, my point is, he made the list. He put the target up there. He knew something was going to happen. I don't think he knew exactly what. But sure enough...

(CROSSTALK)

VANDERSLOOT: Yes, he did.

CAVUTO: All right, Frank VanderSloot.

Left or right, guys, it can always happen to any one of us, the full weight and power of the most feared agency on Earth going after you. See how you would feel.

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