- - Wednesday, June 25, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Taxpayers shouldn’t shed tears over the troubles at the Internal Revenue Service. On Tuesday, the archivist of the United States told Congress that the IRS “did not follow the law” when it did not give due notice when Lois Lerner’s emails conveniently went missing. John Koskinen, the IRS commissioner, spent eight painful hours on the congressional grill trying to explain what happened.

President Obama insists there’s “not even a smidgen of corruption” at the IRS, but the “smidgens” continue to pile up. He dismisses the evidence that the agency singled out Tea Party groups for harassment, but he’ll have trouble explaining away the latest development.

The IRS has agreed to pay the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) $50,000 to settle a lawsuit over the government leaking of a confidential donor list to militant homosexual activists in advance of the 2012 election.

The IRS Exempt Organizations Division, until May 2013 headed by Lois Lerner, is at the heart of these scandals. What happened to the National Organization for Marriage shows why the public is angry about government employees abusing their positions at the IRS for political purposes.

Two years ago, a homosexual “activist” asked the IRS to supply a copy of the tax return, known as a Form 990, of the nonprofit group advocating for traditional marriage. Some of the information on this tax form is meant to be publicly available, but the names and addresses of the group’s donors, by law, are scrupulously protected. In the case of the National Organization for Marriage, information that was supposed to have been blacked out was not, and then given to the activist. The IRS says this was an accident — like Lois Lerner’s crashed hard drive.

The donor list revealed that a group associated with the Mitt Romney campaign gave to the traditional marriage organization. The list was passed on to the pro-homosexual Human Rights Campaign, which in turn gave the information to the Huffington Post, the left-wing online publication, which proceeded to bash the Republican presidential candidate for funding the “anti-gay marriage group under the radar.”

It was a sneak attack meant to galvanize the homosexual lobby at a crucial point in the campaign. The National Organization for Marriage said the disclosure was “part of a deliberate attempt to chill the First Amendment activity of NOM, its donors and others who associate with NOM.” The harassment included threats of business boycotts, physical intimidation and vandalizing of property.

The identity of the IRS leaker is still not known. The Human Rights Campaign won’t say. The House Ways and Means Committee knows the answer, but it can’t divulge the perpetrator’s name because the same law that makes it a felony to disclose confidential taxpayer information also protects the suspect.

Rep. Dave Camp, the Ways and Means chairman, isn’t happy about it. “What makes the situation even worse,” he told National Review Online in October, “is that the law, intended to protect taxpayers, is being used as a shield for those that perpetrate this wrongdoing.”

The National Organization for Marriage asks the Justice Department to press charges against the leaker, which is only just. But that’s unlikely, since Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. continues to play defense for the Obama administration and he ignores criminal referrals from Congress on the IRS matter.

The Ways and Means Committee takes its responsibility seriously, and it won’t leak the name of the leaker. But it would be only rough justice if it did.

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