WASHINGTON – A House committee investigating the IRSâ€™ alleged harassment of conservative groups has identified the agent who leaked confidential information. Earlier this month, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) filed suit against the tax agency over the release of its 2008 tax return.
â€œThe unauthorized release of confidential information is a crime and those affected deserve answers,â€ said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI). â€œThe IRS must take serious action to stop the illegal leaking of confidential information.â€
The perpetratorâ€™s name may not be released due to IRS Code section 6103. The code makes it a felony to release tax returns and also protects the investigation, which is considered the confidential tax information of the alleged perpetrator.
The agency admitted in May that it was wrong to target nonprofit groups with the words â€œTea Partyâ€ and â€œpatriotâ€ during the 2012 election season. Shortly after, other groups came forward alleging they were targeted by the tax agency.
Camp told theÂ National Review OnlineÂ that an IRS agent in the Exempt Organizations Division leaked NOMâ€™s donor information. This is the division that was headed by Lois Lerner until May. She retired last month.
The information, he continues, was released to Matthew Meisel, who used to work at Bain & Company, a management consultancy where former presidential candidate Mitt Romney worked for several years. According to the committee, Meisel gave the information to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which published it and released it to the media.
Some say Meiselâ€™s connection to Romneyâ€™s firm may help explain the leak, used to show Romneyâ€™s support for a California marriage proposition defining the institution as a union between one man and one woman.
â€œIn the case of Schedule B donor data, this is about political power,â€ Pete Sepp, executive vice president of the National Taxpayers Union, toldÂ Citizenlink. â€œThis is about exposing citizens who choose to associate with a particular cause, thereby inviting retaliation from those who disagree with them in many kinds of ways.â€
Focus on the Family Judicial Analyst Bruce Hausknecht said this situation underscores the â€œneed vigilance in the defense of our liberties.â€
â€œWhen you combine the overreaching power of some of these federal agencies with a political agenda, you create a recipe for disaster,â€ he explained. â€œWhen â€˜punishment by bureaucracyâ€™ becomes the norm, Americans lose respect not only for the agencies, and the politicians who should be holding them accountable, but also for the rule of law.â€