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Christine O'Donnell's Tax Records Improperly Accessed

Image: Christine O'Donnell's Tax Records Improperly Accessed

By Melanie Batley   |   Thursday, 18 Jul 2013 12:29 PM

Former Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell's personal federal income tax information was improperly accessed by an individual at the IRS, according to The Washington Times.

Dennis Martel, a criminal investigator for the Treasury Department's inspector general for tax administration, told the Delaware Republican that an official in the state government had improperly accessed her records on March 9, 2010, the day the tea party favorite announced her candidacy in the Republican primary against GOP mainstay Michael Castle.

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Also on that day a tax lien was placed on a house purported to be hers, an issue made public in the media, even though she no longer owned it. The IRS eventually blamed the lien on a computer glitch and withdrew it.

O'Donnell and Senate investigators have been unable to get to the bottom of how and why the breach occurred, and whether abuses of the IRS system extend to private individuals and not just tax-exempt groups which have been the subject of the ongoing IRS controversy.

"I don't know and I'd like to know," O'Donnell told the Times. "Whether it's one, eight, or 80 [cases], it's an abuse of power at the IRS. It's using the IRS as a political weapon, and that shouldn't be done."

O'Donnell, who ultimately scored an upset against Castle in the primary but lost in the general election to Democrat Chris Coons, said she believes her political opponents may have been behind the breach.

"An official with this investigation told me that there was evidence linking this inappropriate use of my tax records with the Delaware political leadership, Delaware political leaders on both sides of the aisle," O'Donnell said.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican and member of the Senate Finance and Judiciary committees, has attempted to investigate the issue, but was stonewalled when the agency said it had a duty to protect the privacy of its officials.

"A taxpayer should be able to know whether someone breached his or her confidentiality, whether any investigation resulted, and the outcome of that investigation. ... I look forward to whether the Justice Department sheds any light on its decision not to prosecute what the inspector general called inappropriate and, in one case, willfully inappropriate access to taxpayer records," said Grassley.

Though O'Donnell has spent six months trying to uncover what happened, investigators told her the probe has been closed, and attempts to get information about her case through Freedom of Information Act requests have been delayed or denied, the Times reported.

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