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Friday, August 28, 2015

Did Obama sign off on IRS misconduct?

Judge Emmet Sullivan of the Washington District Court has captured most of the attention concerning FOIA lawsuits against the IRS but today a second judge from the DC circuit has ruled that the IRS must disclose any White House requests for taxpayer information. Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered the IRS to produce any documents pertaining to presidential requests for taxpayer information. Specifically;
All documents, including but not limited to emails, letters, telephone logs, and reports pertaining to any investigation by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration into the unauthorized disclosure of§ 6103 "return information" to anyone in the Executive Office of the President.
Cause of Action, a Washington watchdog group, first filed suit in 2013 pursuant to a FOIA request. The IRS located 796 pages of documents and produced 790 but refused to produce 6 pages citing of all things a concern for taxpayer privacy. Good try but no cigar. “This court questions whether section 6103 should or would shield records that indicate confidential taxpayer information was misused, or that government officials made an improper attempt to access that information,” the judge wrote in denying the IRS’s request to dismiss the case. The IRS has argued the existence of any request from the White House to peruse a taxpayer's tax information would violate the taxpayer's right of privacy.
Why the foot dragging? Are the DOJ lawyers merely probing the limits of Judge Jackson's patience who was appointed by Obama? It could be disclosure would implicate Obama in the IRS scandal. The law, cited in Exhibit 1 in Cause of Action's suit spells out exactly the procedure the White House must follow to obtain taxpayer information from the IRS.
Upon written request by the President, signed by him personally, the Secretary shall furnish to the President, or to such employee or employees of the White House Office as the President may designate by name in such request, a return or return information with respect to any taxpayer named in such request.
It is a fact that Romney donors had their tax information publicly disclosed during the campaign. It is also a fact that it is a crime to disclose taxpayer information. Obama did say he had a phone and a pen. If he used that pen to sign off on this he may want want to use his phone to call his lawyer.

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