As I wrote here, one of the Obama administration’s most appalling scandals has gone largely unremarked. In the Fall of 2010, as part of its effort to stem the conservative uprising that was occurring at that time, the Internal Revenue Service, under the direction of Lois Lerner and Sarah Ingram, sent the FBI 21 disks containing 1.1 million pages of taxpayer filings. The IRS’s purpose was to give the FBI ammunition with which to investigate and prosecute conservatives.
The IRS covered up this transaction. Over more than a year, despite three subpoenas from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the IRS never disclosed its transmission of documents to the FBI. The episode came to light because the Department of Justice belatedly, in response to subpoenas from the House committee, acknowledged that the documents had been transmitted and gave the committee copies of the 21 disks as well as some emails that related to the transaction.
This was on June 2, 2014. At that time, the DOJ assured the House committee that there was nothing on the disks other than publicly-available filings of Section 501(c) non-profit organizations. But that wasn’t true. Two days later, on June 4, DOJ told the committee that its prior assurance was inoperative: the disks actually include confidential taxpayer information that was given to the FBI in violation of federal law. This is a serious matter; violation of the applicable statute carries a penalty of five years in prison.
The obvious inference is that the IRS didn’t just send the FBI a bunch of publicly available Form 990s filed by non-profits. Rather, the IRS included Schedule B to those forms–the documents that name the organization’s donors, and provide their addresses and the amounts they contributed. Donor information contained in Schedule B is confidential. Illegally communicated, it would give the FBI a checklist of individuals who could be investigated and potentially criminally prosecuted, much as Dinesh D’Souza was prosecuted for a chickenfeed election offense a few years later.
Is that what happened? And if so, how much confidential taxpayer information was illegally compromised? What conservative donors were disclosed? What action, if any, did the FBI take against some of those donors? (Sadly, we know one thing the FBI did NOT do: it did not blow the whistle on the IRS’s illegal transmission of confidential taxpayer data. An easy criminal prosecution, against Lois Lerner and others at the IRS, was at hand, but the FBI did not act.)
These are questions to which many conservatives (although no one in the news media, apparently) would like to have answers. But DOJ’s notification to the House committee that the 21 disks contain confidential taxpayer information operates as a Catch-22. Given that notice, no one on the committee, or on the committee’s staff–or anyone else–can access the disks without violating the same federal law that the IRS and the FBI broke in 2010. So the disks sit idle, and we do not know, and might never know, the scope of the Obama administration’s illegal conduct. Thus do the corrupt run rings around the law-abiding.
UPDATE: More here.
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