The IRS sent confidential information of thousands of American taxpayers to the FBI just before the 2010-midterm elections for a potential investigation into nonprofit groups, according to a House Committee.
National Review’s Eliana Johnson reports:
The Internal Revenue Service may have been caught violating federal tax law: In October 2010, the agency sent a database on 501(c)(4) social-welfare groups containing confidential taxpayer information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to documents obtained by a House panel.
The information was transmitted in advance of former IRS official Lois Lerner’s meeting the same month with Justice Department officials about the possibility of using campaign-finance laws to prosecute certain nonprofit groups. E-mails between Lerner and Richard Pilger, the director of the Justice Department’s election-crimes branch, obtained through a subpoena to Attorney General Eric Holder, show Lerner asking about the format in which the FBI preferred the data to be sent.
Chairman Issa sent a letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen on Monday, demanding all documents related to 21 disks of taxpayer information his agency transmitted to the FBI.
"We were astonished to learn days ago from the Justice Department that these 21 disks contained confidential taxpayer information protected by federal law," the letter said. "We ask that you immediately produce all material explaining how these disks were prepared and transmitted to the FBI."
"This revelation that the IRS sent 1.1 million pages of nonprofit tax-return data—including confidential taxpayer information—to the FBI confirms suspicions that the IRS worked with the Justice Department to facilitate potential investigation of nonprofit groups engaged in lawful political speech," it said.
"The IRS apparently considered political speech by nonprofit groups to be so troublesome that it illegally assisted federal law-enforcement officials in assembling a massive database of the lawful political speech of thousands of American citizens, weeks before the 2010 midterm elections, using confidential taxpayer information," the letter added.
Additionally, the committee accused the IRS of stonewalling their investigation into the agency’s targeting of conservative nonprofits. The IRS has ignored several subpoenas to hand over documents, including all communications from Lerner.
"Your choice to withhold this highly relevant material obstructs the committee’s ongoing oversight obligations—especially when this information implicates violations of federal law," the letter said.
The committee asked Koskinen to turn over all relevant documentation relating to the database immediately.