The chairman of the National Organization for Marriage says organization plans a vigorous fight against the Internal Revenue Service for allegedly leaking its confidential tax returns to a political opponent.
"We are getting ready to file a lawsuit . . . against the IRS for illegal disclosure," John Eastman revealed to "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
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"If there's a civil-liability provision that allows a taxpayer to bring such a suit, then we will do so . . . this is not just some low-level thing going on."
On Tuesday, Eastman testified before the House Ways and Means committee — which is probing the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS.
He told lawmakers confidential information from the tax returns of his organization, which opposes gay marriage, was purposely leaked to the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy and lobbying group.
That included lists of major donors and their home addresses — lists that was posted on the Human Rights Campaign's website. One confidentialdocument revealed that Mitt Romney's political committee had donated money.
But complaints to the IRS about the leak were allegedly ignored, according to Eastman.
"We encouraged the [Ways and Means] committee to consider a subpoena against the Human Rights Campaign itself, to say, 'OK . . . Who posted it on the website? Who from the IRS gave it to you?' Let's run that paper trail," Eastman told Steve Malzberg.
"When it was posted on the Human Rights Campaign website . . . we discovered the underlying original document had IRS internal markings on it that only get put on the documents after they're filed with the Internal Revenue Service."
Eastman believes the leak may have implications that go all the way to the White House.
"The president of the Human Rights Campaign at the time, Joe Solomonese, had just been named a national co-chair of the Obama re-election campaign. That's a pretty small inner circle . . ." he said.
Eastman said he also approached the Department of Justice about the leak because the illegal disclosure of private tax returns is a felony punishable by a $5,000 fine and up to five years in federal prison.
"The Department of Justice said [it was] a tax issue, we're not going to have anything to do this," he said.
The Treasury Department then launched an investigation of the National Organization for Marriage to determine whether the group had leaked the documents itself.
"Once we were able to prove to them that it didn't come from us, that was the last we heard of the investigation and that was last summer almost a year ago," he said.
"So beginning last August we filed a series of Freedom of Information Act requests trying as is our right to ascertain the status of the investigation into who committed this felony against us by disclosing our tax returns."
So far, he added, his group has made no progress.
"It’s not only have we not gotten anywhere, the latest response came on May 3 and the inspector general's office of the Treasury Department advised us that it would be illegal for them to disclose the identity of the culprit," Eastman said.
"We want to know who did this and we want felony charges be brought, but we also want the individual IRS, individual agents responsible as far up the chain as that goes."
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