The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) announced Tuesday that it will sue the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for the March 2012 release of confidential donor information.
In an interview with The Christian Post, NOM Chairman John C. Eastman went further. "If someone higher up led this, these are high crimes and misdemeanors and ought to lead to impeachment investigations," he said.
Back in March 2012, NOM's political opponent, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), "the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization," released documents showing a $10,000 donation from Mitt Romney's Political Action Committee to NOM in 2008.
In early April, NOM published its own materials alleging that HRC had taken this information from confidential IRS records.
Form 990, Schedule B lists a nonprofit's donors and their addresses. Federal law designates it as private information. "The Human Rights Campaign and Huffington Post reposted it – that's a felony," Eastman charged.
"In addition to being our principal combatant in the war on traditional marriage, the HRC's president at the time was serving as a Co-Chair of President Obama's reelection campaign," said NOM President Brian Brown, in yesterday's statement. "This is a chilling set of circumstances that should ring alarm bells across the nation."
Eastman said the suit was long in coming. In April, "we asked for an investigation. Nothing ever came of it. In August we began filing a series of Freedom of Information Act requests."
Finally, they received a response – "The IRS position most recently is the criminal who did this is a taxpayer, so his name is protected." Eastman charged the IRS with "an orchestrated campaign to keep the identity of that person from disclosure and criminal prosecution."
He pointed out three possible explanations: either someone fraudulently represented themselves as a member of NOM, someone hacked into the IRS, or "somebody within the IRS leaked it to our leading political enemy, whose head was the national Co-Chair of Obama's reelection campaign."
When Eastman heard that "the very statute that should defend us is being used to shield the felon," he called it laughable. "Orwell would be proud," he said.
NOM is not the only group to consider suing the IRS for alleged political corruption. Earlier this week, an Inspector General report unleashed allegations "that the IRS engaged in wide-spread targeting of conservative groups for several years, in many cases delaying the groups' applications for tax-exempt status," ABC reported.
In a Wednesday statement, Tea Party Patriots, "the nation's largest tea party organization," called for an investigation.
"This report raises more questions as to why the IRS, a powerful government agency, chose to target specific groups for harassment and burdensome review during an election season," said Tea Party Patriots National Coordinator, Jenny Beth Martin.
"How can the IRS claim that this was not 'politically motivated' when news reports have come out today saying that liberal groups were not targeted?"
"At this point, the IRS' integrity is shattered," she concluded.
President Obama himself condemned the IRS' alleged actions. "I will not tolerate it. And we'll make sure that we find out exactly what happened on this," he said.
"One would think, that when we identify this felony that was pointed out a year ago, he would have done something then," NOM's Eastman argued. "It's only now that the heat is turned up that he says, 'Oh, there's something going on in the IRS!'"
Eastman reflected on the dangerous precedent such alleged politically maneuvering might set. "When the government itself starts taking sides in political disputes, that is a very dangerous thing – particularly when the political disputes are over the size and scope of government."
This episode illustrates "the awesome power of government," he said. "When that power starts being deployed to put the thumb on the scale in a political contest, it will destroy our ability to be a self-governing people."