The IRS scandal just took a turn for the worse, exposing what may be further political abuse by the Obama Administration.
It has recently come to light that the Obama Administration’s Treasury Department is in possession of over 2,500 pages of documents that may show that the IRS and the White House were colluding to illegally obtain confidential taxpayer information and that the White House used that information in an attempt to harm its political enemies.
As the Washington Free Beacon explains:
An IRS watchdog is refusing to release thousands of documents related to unauthorized leaks of confidential taxpayer information to the White House, citing privacy concerns.
In a letter to watchdog group Cause of Action on Tuesday, an attorney with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) said the office had located “2,509 pages of documents potentially responsive to your request.” However, TIGTA said it barred by law from releasing them.
“These pages consist of return information protected by 26 U.S.C. § 6103 and may not be disclosed absent an express statutory exception,” the letter said. “Because no such exception exists here, we are withholding those.”
What are those “responsive” documents?
The documents are related to a FOIA request that a federal judge has demanded the Treasury Department comply with concerning an investigation of the IRS potentially turning over confidential tax documents of conservative groups to the White House in blatant violation of federal law.
That kind of accusation is stunning to say the least.
Here’s what the investigation was looking into:
[Austan] Goolsbee, the former White House Council of Economic Advisers chairman, sparked a mini-scandal in 2010 when said during a background press briefing that Koch Industries—the company of libertarian philanthropists Charles and David Koch—paid no income taxes.
How could he possibly have that kind of information without having illegally obtained it from the IRS itself?
That’s what the FOIA request was about. But here’s where it gets really interesting.
Turning over confidential taxpayer information (out ide of a few clearly outlined exceptions – none of which would include giving them to the White House to blast political opponents) is a violation of federal law, specifically 26 U.S.C. § 6103.
Why is TIGTA refusing to release over 2,500 pages of documents regarding this scandal? Because “[t]hese pages consist of return information protected by 26 U.S.C. § 6103,” according to TIGTA.
Of course, if there were documents proving that confidential taxpayer information had been illegally disclosed by the IRS to the White House, those documents would themselves contain that confidential taxpayer information.
There would seem to be a there there.
TIGTA now claims that it is in the midst of an ongoing investigation into this new area of the IRS scandal.
As the whole process drags out, it further exemplifies the problems not only of rampant corruption in a runaway, politically charged IRS but the inherent problem of allowing the Obama Administration to continue to investigation itself as evidence of wrongdoing piles up.
If true that the White House was seeking and obtained confidential taxpayer information from the IRS in stunning violation of federal law, it would further explode an already burgeoning IRS scandal.
The IRS cannot be allowed to be the political enforcement wing of the Obama Administration.
At the ACLJ, we’re continuing to fight for justice and accountability in multiple courts and in Congress to stop this epidemic of IRS abuse.
Matthew Clark is Associate Counsel for Government Affairs and Media Advocacy with the ACLJ in the Washington, D.C. headquarters.
Used with the permission of the American Center for Law and Justice.