Did IRS Employee Give Confidential Info About Pro-Marriage Group to Gay Rights Group?

Someone at the Internal Revenue Service gave confidential National Organization for Marriage tax documents to the Human Rights Campaign, Dr. John Eastman, NOM's chairman of the board, testified Tuesday before the House Ways and Means Committee.

In March 2012, HRC published on its website one of NOM's tax forms that contained the names of its donors, explained Eastman, who is also Henry Salvatori Professor of Law & Community Service at Chapman University School of Law and chairman of The Claremont Institute's Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence. The information was republished on other websites, including The Huffington Post.

NOM and HRC have been on opposite sides of the debate on whether to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples. NOM does not publish the names of its donors, Eastman explained, because doing so would subject them to harassment.

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"Like nearly every other nonprofit organization, NOM does not publicly disclose its donor information. Indeed, because of the vicious and at times even violent campaign of intimidation that has been waged against supporters of traditional marriage – intimidation that the Supreme Court itself has remarked upon – NOM jealously guards the confidentiality of its donors," he said.

NOM had computer analysts examine a portion of the document that had been redacted. That portion revealed markings that are placed on the tax forms after they are submitted to the IRS. This evidence supports the contention that the document had to have come from the IRS itself, Eastman argued.

Eastman was one of six witnesses, all representing conservative groups, who testified that they were harassed by the IRS. While NOM has been aware of the incident since last March, Eastman felt the information "seems to carry even greater weight" in light of the news of IRS targeting of conservative groups during the same time period.

NOM officially requested an investigation with the Department of Justice and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, but has received no information regarding the progress of those investigations. IRS officials testified recently before Congress that the investigation is not ongoing.

After receiving no response from the Justice Department or TIGTA, NOM filed Freedom of Information Act requests to determine what happened with those investigations. The IRS and TIGTA have not provided any information, though, including whether there is or ever was an investigation regarding who at the IRS provided HRC with the confidential information, Eastman said.

In answer to a question from a committee member, Eastman said that NOM has incurred "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in legal fees as a result of this incident.

"They say don't fight city hall, sometimes you have to fight city hall for our government to be what it's supposed to be," Eastman said.

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