OTR Interviews

Tea Party and conservative groups redeemed at IRS hearings, while Dems show their true colors?

John Eastman, President of National Organization for Marriage, and Kevin Kookogey, president of Linchpins of Liberty, reflect on testimony detailing political profiling by the IRS

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 4, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Conservative groups finally getting their turn today, telling Congress about the IRS putting a giant target on their backs. Two of today's speakers join us, Kevin Kookogey from Linchpins for Liberty and John Eastman from a group called the National Organization for Marriage.

And let me ask you first, John, you two ever know each other before your testimony today?

JOHN EASTMAN, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MARRIAGE: Not until this morning, but he's a philosophical brother because what I heard in his statement today, quoting Montesquieu and Sidero, that's after my own heart.

VAN SUSTEREN: And what about the other Tea Party...

(CROSSTALK)

EASTMAN: You know, I -- a couple of them, I met, you know, kind of in phone conferences, whatever, but never in person.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Kevin, you've been -- waited 29 months since you've filed for the -- for the 501(c)3, 29 months, no -- no -- it still hasn't been authorized, right?

KEVIN KOOKOGEY, LINCHPINS OF LIBERTY: No status yet. In fact, 29 months and counting as of yesterday.

VAN SUSTEREN: And -- and you -- and you also lost a $30,000...

KOOKOGEY: A $30,000 grant that was promised based on achieving status. And the executive director of that organization told me he had never seen such treatment of an -- by the IRS of an organization like mine.

VAN SUSTEREN: John, did you think you got fair treatment today? Is there any -- anyone say anything to you surprise you?

EASTMAN: Well, I got fair treatment by half of the committee. Quite frankly, the other half of the committee I think did a disservice to themselves and the country. I mean, the notion that Representative Blumenaur accused the National Organization of Marriage of not even being eligible to be a nonprofit because we support traditional marriage and that doesn't have anything to do with the common welfare or the public good. It's those kind of decisions that are being made by the IRS every day, empowered by statements like that from Representative Blumenaur -- Blumenaur, or President Obama, quite frankly, that has led to the mess we're in right now.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have -- have you ever received your authorization, your...

EASTMAN: The National Organization for Marriage is not in the same boat the other groups were. We already are authorized as a 501(c)4. What happened to us was that illegal disclosure of our tax returns.

VAN SUSTEREN: That went on -- that was given to an opponent and went on a Web site.

EASTMAN: The head of the Human Rights Campaign at the time was -- had just been named national co-chair of the Obama reelection campaign. They'd been seeking our donors so they could publicize them and intimidate them away from giving any further money to support our cause. And you know, it's a felony, five years in prison. It's a serious felony, what was -- what happened to us.

VAN SUSTEREN: Were your tax returns and list of donors that were put on that Web site -- are you able to actually trace them to the IRS and not some, you know, rogue within your own organization?

EASTMAN: The copies of our own tax returns that we have in our organization are clean copies. We filed them with the IRS electronically. And when they get filed electronically, the IRS puts a code on the them. The redaction that we were unable to unlayer has that IRS code on it. So we know for a fact that this came from within the IRS.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you know who did it?

EASTMAN: Don't know who did it. And we've asked for an investigation from the Department of Justice, as well as the inspector general. We've been stonewalled in finding out any information about those investigations.

VAN SUSTEREN: So they won't -- they actually -- do they actually have an investigation ongoing?

EASTMAN: We -- they now refuse to even acknowledge whether there is one or not. But back in April last year, they acknowledged and gave us a complaint number for the investigation. They first investigated us to try and prove that it came from somebody within our organization. When that didn't pan out, that was the last we heard of the investigation.

VAN SUSTEREN: Kevin, today, anything surprise you?

KOOKOGEY: Well, I agree with John that what surprised me was what the Democrats did. And I do agree that they did a disservice. One of the things they attempted to do was to malign us as if our ideas didn't matter, to describe their social welfare programs as somehow constitutionally acceptable, but ours as not worth the protection of the Constitution.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, I think there was one -- I think it was Congressman McDermott who said this was -- just was simply a mistake. Is that simply unacceptable to you?

KOOKOGEY: Yes. To identify it simply as a mistake is to do a disservice to the moral issue. This is a fundamental American issue. The 1st Amendment liberties, they're in the 1st Amendment for a reason, and that they are in the 1st Amendment I think is a testament to how important they are to our liberties as determined by our founders.

But to say it's a mistake is also dismissive of all of these organizations because we're -- we don't make -- we don't bring in a lot of money. I think at one point in the testimony, it was clear how little, how few dollars, $2,000 here, $3,000 there. And they make it -- they demagogue us to make it seem like we're some giant corporation that's bringing millions of dollars to be able to fight the Obama administration, when we're mom and pop.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is your occupation? I mean, is this a full-time job for you?

KOOKOGEY: I wish it were, but I'm an entertainment lawyer. I love what I do. But for 21 years, I've been an entertainment lawyer. And this has been a part-time and now a very small part-time one-man shop operation on the side.

VAN SUSTEREN: And so before this, were you involved in politics at all, or is the Tea Part sort of your first step into politics -- or step into this arena about issues?

KOOKOGEY: Well, we're not Tea Party, but we do share philosophical concerns with the Tea Party. We reject the expansion of the government beyond its legitimate authority and we jealously guard human liberty. I would say that my philosophical journey and my involvement in political issues probably started 10 or 12 years ago.

VAN SUSTEREN: And what about you, John? Is this a full-time job for you?

EASTMAN: No, it's not. I'm the chairman of the board of the National Organization for Marriage, but that's -- like most boards, it's a volunteer position. We have a full-time staff. But my day job is a law professor at Chapman University.

VAN SUSTEREN: And so before this, were you involved in these sort of issues? I mean, is this -- is this something sort of new to you?

EASTMAN: Well, I ran for attorney general in California in 2010. And that was as the Tea Party movement was kicking into high gear. And I probably spoke to every single one of the groups out in California during that campaign. They're terrific people, homespun Americans who had had enough of what's happening in our country and wanted to do something about it before it became irreversible and they handed down something worse to their kids than they received from their parents.

VAN SUSTEREN: Any doubt in your minds that you were targeted, not just sort of an accidental audit or the delay on your certificates?

KOOKOGEY: No doubt whatsoever.

VAN SUSTEREN: Any doubt with you?

EASTMAN: No. It's hard to claim that it was inadvertent when somebody took to the trouble to the IRS identifying information and our tax returns just happened to show up in the hands of our political opponent.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you want to happen?

KOOKOGEY: I want the truth. And I think part of the truth is that criminal -- there's clearly been criminal legal violations and there's been crimes committed. Who committed those crimes, we don't know yet. But to - - for the IRS to merely apologize -- if we don't file our tax returns, Greta, that we're subject to criminal penalties. If the IRS...

VAN SUSTEREN: You even have to pay your tax first before you can challenge it! You know, that it's an unlawful tax.

KOOKOGEY: Exactly. So in this situation, the IRS is mere saying, We're sorry, and that's simply not acceptable.

VAN SUSTEREN: What would you like, sir?

EASTMAN: There are felonies committed against our organization. I'd like the people that committed those felonies prosecuted. And I'd like that trail run up as high and as far as it goes of who ordered it, who authorized it, who disclosed it, who put the redaction on it. All of those things are felonies, and we need to get to the bottom of it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Gentlemen, thank you, and welcome to Washington.

KOOKOGEY: Thanks, Greta.

EASTMAN: Thanks, Greta.