IRS Released Confidential Data Of Conservative Groups
Pro Publica reported last night that the IRS had released to it confidential information consisting of applications for tax-exempt status of several conservative organizations:
ProPublica on Monday reported that the same IRS division that targeted conservative groups for special scrutiny during the 2012 election cycle provided the investigative-reporting organization with confidential applications for tax-exempt status.
That revelation contradicts previous statements from the agency and may represent a violation of federal guidelines. Lois G. Lerner, who heads the IRS sector that reviews tax-exemption applications, told a congressional oversight committee in April 2012 that IRS code prohibited the agency from providing information about groups that had not yet been approved.
Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) had asked Lerner in March 2012 to provide a list of all organizations that the IRS had subjected to special scrutiny.
Lerner replied that she could not legally reveal information about groups that were not approved and that identifying targeted applicants that were already approved would require additional work, specifically a “manual review of each file.” She did not identify any of the organizations.
Below is an excerpt of Lerner’s response:
“Section 6104(a) of the Code permits public disclosure of an application for recognition of tax exempt status and supporting materials only after the organization has been recognized as exempt. Consequently, we cannot provide a list of organizations that have received [additional scrutiny] from the IRS, until those applications have been approved.”
ProPublica reported that the Lerner’s division released “nine pending confidential applications of conservatives groups” in response to a request from the investigative-reporting organization for the applications of 67 nonprofits in November 2012.
This is separate and apart from the story that was made public last Friday about the targeting of conservative groups, appears to clearly violate established IRS procedures, and may also violate Federal Law. This story isn’t going to be going away for awhile.