House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) says IRS officials appear to have violated federal tax law by giving the Justice Department more than one million pages of taxpayer data — some of which contained confidential information — to explore possible investigations against these taxpayers.
In a Monday letter to the IRS, Issa said Justice told his committee on June 2 that it received this information from the IRS back in 2010. But while Justice first said the 21 disks of data only contained public information on tax-exempt organizations, Justice then said they did appear to contain confidential information.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., says he has new information indicating the IRS likely broke the law by transmitting confidential taxpayer information to the Justice Department. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
"[T]his revelation likely means that the IRS — including possibly Lois Lerner — violated federal tax law by transmitting this information to the Justice Department in 2010," Issa wrote.
Lerner is the former IRS official in charge of tax exempt organizations who refused to testify in Issa's committee about her role in the IRS targeting scandal. The House voted to hold her in contempt of Congress last month.
Issa asked the IRS to provide as much information as it can about the decision to hand this information over to Justice, including communications within the IRS about the decision.
Issa has been probing the IRS targeting scandal since last year, when it was revealed that the IRS was applying extra scrutiny to conservative-leaning groups seeking tax exempt status.
In his new letter to the IRS, Issa said the transfer of information to Justice seems to support the theory that the Obama administration was conspiring to put more pressure on these groups, just before the mid-term elections in 2010.
"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 the potential investigation of nonprofit groups engaged in lawful political speech," Issa wrote.
"At the very least, this information suggests that the IRS considered the political speech activities of nonprofits to be worthy of investigation by federal law-enforcement officials," he added. "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."
Read Issa's letter here: