Two new developments have severe implications for the IRS scandal.
The watchdog group Judicial Watch announced Thursday that it had obtained emails showing that former IRS official Lois Lerner gave protected information to the Federal Elections Commission.
Meanwhile, the House Ways and Means Committee said it had identified the IRS agent who leaked National Organization for Marriage donors to gay rights activists.
Judicial Watch obtained the emails in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on Aug. 9. They purport to show Lerner, who led the IRS Exempt Organizations division, promising full cooperation with an FEC attorney who was seeking information about the tax-exempt applications of two conservative groups, the American Future Fund (AFF) and the American Issues Project (AIP), as well as AIP’s predecessor groups.
Lerner then sent “detailed, confidential information about the organizations” to the FEC, according to Judicial Watch, including tax returns and requests for exempt recognition forms.
“Under Section 6013 of the Internal Revenue Code, it is a felony for an IRS official to disclose either ‘return information’ or ‘taxpayer return information,’ even to another government agency,” Judicial Watch said in a press statement.
Judicial Watch maintains that the scandal could go even deeper.
“These documents show that the suppression of the Tea Party and conservatives wasn’t necessarily limited to the IRS. Any criminal and congressional investigations need to be expanded beyond the IRS to the FEC. I have the feeling that these documents are just the beginning,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton told Breitbart News on Thursday.
At National Review Online, Eliana Johnson reports that the House Ways and Means Committee’s investigation has led to a particular IRS agent, though it is not able to disclose his identity because of the same section of the Internal Revenue Code that prohibits the sharing of confidential tax information in the first place. In an odd twist, it is the alleged perpetrator in this case, not the victim organization, whose privacy is protected.
“What makes the situation even worse is that the law, intended to protect taxpayers, is being used as a shield for those that perpetrate this wrongdoing,” House Ways and Means Committee chair Dave Camp (R-MI) told Johnson.
The IRS agent was apparently working under Lerner at the Exempt Organizations division at the time. The identity of the agent will be protected unless and until the initial violation itself is prosecuted.