House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, are demanding more information after revelations that the Internal Revenue Service sent a database of tax-exempt organizations to the FBI in the weeks before the 2010 midterm elections.
"We were extremely troubled by this new information, and by the fact that the IRS has withheld it from the committee for over a year," Issa and Jordan wrote in a letter
sent Monday to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
According to testimony
presented before the Oversight Committee, Richard Pilger, the Director of the Department of Justice’s Election Crimes branch, told investigators in a transcribed interview that the Justice Department met with former IRS official Lois Lerner in October 2010, two and a half years sooner than previously known, to discuss potential criminal enforcement relating to nonprofit groups.
It was also learned that the IRS transmitted 21 disks, with a 1.1 million-page database of information from 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organizations, to the FBI in October 2010.
The Justice Department has turned the database over to Oversight this month, following a subpoena, with Justice saying the IRS informed the department that the information should have never been sent to the FBI.
"We were astonished to learn days ago from the Justice Department that these 21 disks contained confidential taxpayer information protected by federal law," wrote Issa and Jordan. "We ask that you immediately produce all material explaining how these disks were prepared and transmitted to the FBI."
The lawmakers said that by sending the materials to the FBI, the IRS was taking steps to "provide sensitive evidentiary material to law-enforcement officials about the political speech of nonprofits."
In addition, Issa and Jordan said, by sending the database, the "IRS apparently considered political speech by nonprofit groups to be so troublesome that it illegally assisted federal law-enforcement officials in assembling a massive database of the lawful political speech of thousands of American citizens."
In addition, the IRS has not provided information that Lerner sent the database to the FBI, Issa and Jordan said in their letter, and had not learned about it until the Pilger interview.
"Despite two committee subpoenas, the IRS has not produced material relating to these 21 disks and all associated information," the letter says. "The subpoena [to the IRS] created a legal requirement on you, as the commissioner of the IRS, to identify and produce all subpoenaed material in an expeditious manner. Your choice to withhold this highly relevant material obstructs the committee’s ongoing oversight obligations – especially when this information implicates violations of federal law."
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