The leader of a conservative organization that supports traditional marriage between a man and a woman testified before Congress on Tuesday as a part of the ongoing investigation into the IRS’ targeting of such conservative organizations. In that testimony, he claimed his organization had evidence that the IRS committed a felony in its tactics to hamper his organization’s application for tax-exempt status and bring harm to his organization.
John Eastman, the chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, testified before the House Ways and Means Committee. In his testimony, Eastman noted the IRS disclosed his organization’s tax information to the Human Rights Campaign. The Human Rights Campaign is a noted political rival of the National Organization for Marriage. The disclosure happened in 2012.
“This just smells and I hope this committee gets to the bottom of it,” Eastman stated.
Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin directly asked Eastman if he had proof the IRS was responsible for the leak of donor information to the Human Rights Campaign. Eastman indicated that his organization did have proof.
Although the donor list posted on the Human Rights Campaign’s web site had large sections that had been redacted, forensic analysis revealed that the posted version had IRS stamps on it. Such IRS stamps are typical of documents created and owned by the IRS.
“You can imagine our shock and disgust over this… We jealously guard our donors,” Eastman said.
Eastman noted that he believed the release of their donor information to his organization’s opponent was a deliberate act of sabotage. Eastman also expressed frustration that previous requests for an investigation into the matter when the leaked information was discovered had been prevented to date.
The testimony from Eastman and others marked the first day in the hearings investigating the actions of the IRS that victims of the crimes have spoken out.
Along with testimony from Eastman, several members of Tea Party organizations likewise testified. These members outlined the specific steps the IRS subjected them to as a part of their application for tax-exempt status. These steps were above and beyond the IRS’ normal processes for vetting a tax-exempt organization application.
One Tea Party representative noted that her organization was give an 80-item questionnaire to complete and was permitted only three weeks to return the answers. Another representative indicated her organization had applied to receive tax-exempt status in 2010 and was still awaiting an answer.
The hearings concerning the IRS’ actions commenced after reports were released that IRS agents located in the Cincinnati IRS office targeted conservative organizations from 2010 to 2012. This targeting included various tactics to delay the processing of their tax-exempt applications.
While the White House claims these actions were solely at the discretion of rogue agents within the IRS, those agents testified earlier this week that they were simply following direct orders from leaders in Washington. The agents also indicated those orders included targeting specific conservative organizations and providing the results of those questions directly back to the leaders.
The additional questions led to an average delay of two years in the application for tax-exempt status as compared to the average wait time for the process.
Mark has been a contributor to legal web sites related to bankruptcy, tax, and criminal law since 2011. He has an Accounting degree from Texas A&M University.