Confidential tax information of numerous political candidates and campaign donors were improperly scrutinized by government officials, the Treasury Department has admitted, according to the Washington Times. However, the Justice Department has declined to prosecute any of the instances of potential wrongdoing.
Responding to questions from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, J. Russell George, reportedly told Grassley in private that investigators are looking into two allegations that the IRS “targeted for audit candidates for public office.”
Additionally, George reportedly told Grassley that a review found four cases since 2006 where unidentified government officials took part in “unauthorized access or disclosure of tax records of political donors or candidates.” At least one case he described as “willful,” while the others were deemed inadvertent.
More from the Washington Times:
Mr. Grassley has asked Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to explain why the Justice Department chose not to prosecute any of the cases. The Iowa Republican told The Washington Times that the IRS “is required to act with neutrality and professionalism, not political bias.”
The investigation did not name the government officials who obtained the IRS records improperly, nor did it reveal the identities or political parties of the people whose tax records were compromised. By law, taxpayer records at the IRS are supposed to be confidential.
The disclosures deal another blow to the IRS and the Obama administration, which are still grappling with revelations that IRS agents inappropriately targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status for extraordinarily burdensome scrutiny during
President Obama’s first term. Amid that furor over the abuse of the agency’s powers, the IRS has denied that the tax records of political candidates or donors were improperly accessed.
Grassley told the Times that the DOJ “should answer completely and not hide behind taxpayer confidentiality laws to avoid accountability for its decision not to prosecute a violation of taxpayer confidentiality laws.”
“With the IRS on the hot seat over targeting certain political groups, it’s particularly troubling to learn about ‘willful unauthorized access’ of tax records involving individuals who were candidates for office or political donors,” he added. “The public needs to know whether the decision not to prosecute these violations was politically motivated and whether the individuals responsible were held accountable in any other way.”
Grassley has given Holder a July 26 deadline to answer his questions. The DOJ had yet to respond as of Monday.
Read the Washington Times’ full report here.