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Sen. Moran on IRS Scandal: Take Second Look at Political Donor Information Leaks at IRS

"Leaks like this are not only illegal, they are terribly damaging to our Democracy. I believe this is one more facet of a scandal that is not going away anytime soon, and I am anxious to hear what Secretary Lew and Acting Commissioner Miller have to say."

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee with oversight over the U.S. Department of Treasury – of which the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is a bureau – has submitted eight pointed questions regarding the politicization of the IRS to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller. Sen. Moran believes the IRS’ admission that conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status were targeted for additional scrutiny is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the IRS scandal.

"The startling revelations give real credibility to numerous reports over the last year that the IRS ‘inadvertently’ released donor information from conservative groups – and that information ended up in the hands of political opponents,” Sen. Moran said. “Leaks like this are not only illegal – they are terribly damaging to our Democracy. I believe this is one more facet of a scandal that is not going away anytime soon, and I am anxious to hear what Secretary Lew and Acting Commissioner Miller have to say."

Secretary Lew and Acting Commissioner Miller are required to respond to the questions, as they were submitted to the record as an extension of Secretary Lew’s testimony before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government last Wednesday, May 8, 2013. During the hearing, Sen. Moran questioned Secretary Lew about the troubling evidence that the IRS released Schedule B donor lists belonging to 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations to other outside groups who intended to use the information for partisan political purposes. Sen. Moran referenced three specific examples of IRS leaks:

1. In April 2012, an organization called the National Organization for Marriage – which supports traditional marriage – had their donor information released to the public by the IRS and then used by an organization on the other side of the issue.

2. In December 2012, the IRS turned over several pending applications for tax-exempt status from a number of 501(c)(4)s to Pro Publica. Applications for nonprofit status are protected tax return information while the application is pending. Pro Publica published information from these pending applications that it should never have received – a felony punishable by up to five years in prison or a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

3. Earlier this year, the IRS again “inadvertently” released one page of a Schedule B donor list affiliated with the Republican Governors Association to an outside group.

Sen. Moran has asked Secretary Lew and Acting Commissioner Miller the following questions about the lack of progress on the part of the IRS, the Treasury Department and the Justice Department in pursuing the apparent breakdown in taxpayer protection. Answers are expected in the coming week:

 1.      Can you confirm that there is an active effort on the parts of both the IRS and the Department of the Treasury to find the sources of these releases?

 2.       Have the Department of the Treasury and the IRS identified other instances of Schedule B donor lists being improperly released to other parties? Please list any and all instances in your response.

 3.      Will you both commit to conducting a full investigation to identify the IRS sources responsible for these improper disclosures of protected taxpayer information and ascertain for what purpose that information was released in the first place?

 4.      Will you yourselves fully cooperate and direct your subordinates to fully cooperate with any such investigation?

 5.      As part of this investigation, will you give this subcommittee access to all materials related to the means and motives surrounding these disclosures and specifically investigate fully whether these disclosures were the result of intentional acts by the employees involved?

 6.      Will you submit the findings of this investigation to the Justice Department to take action and prosecute groups that knowingly published protected taxpayer information that they improperly received.

7.      What concrete steps will you take to ensure that these apparent lapses in the protection of taxpayer information cease?

8.      Will the Secretary and the Acting Commissioner confirm that they will not permit the IRS to politicize protected taxpayer information, regardless of the political nature of the information?