The Internal Revenue Service has agreed to pay $50,000 in damages to the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) after unlawfully releasing the conservative organization’s 2008 tax return to the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group.
NOM, which was one of the organizers of the March for Marriage on June 19, works to defend the institution of marriage at the local, state and national levels. They work with legislators, by informing voters when they head to the ballot box, and by giving marriage a voice in the courts of law as well as in the court of public opinion.
In 2012, the Human Rights Campaign illegally obtained NOM’s 2008 tax return and published on their website the names and contact information of the marriage group’s major donors, including soon-to-be Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. That information was then widely published by the Huffington Post and other liberal-leaning news sites.
On June 24, The Daily Signal reported the NOM victory, saying:
The Daily Signal has learned that, under a consent judgment today, the IRS agreed to pay $50,000 in damages to the National Organization for Marriage as a result of the unlawful release of the confidential information to a gay rights group, the Human Rights Campaign, that is NOM’s chief political rival.
“Congress made the disclosure of confidential tax return information a serious matter for a reason,” NOM Chairman John D. Eastman told The Daily Signal. “We’re delighted that the IRS has now been held accountable for the illegal disclosure of our list of major donors from our tax return.”
Eastman said an investigation in the civil lawsuit determined that someone gave NOM’s tax return and list of major donors to Boston-based gay rights activist Matthew Meisel. Email correspondence from Meisel revealed that he told a colleague of “a conduit” to obtain the marriage group’s confidential information.
Testifying under oath in a deposition as part of the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Meisel invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself and declined to disclose the identity of his “conduit.”
The IRS’ admission of wrongdoing and the subsequent finding against the agency comes as hearings continue on Capitol Hill regarding the lost email scandal and former IRS official Lois Lerner’s missing hard drive.
How could I have forgotten the Michigan connection in this whole scandal? On May 16, I reported that Democratic Senator Carl Levin pressured the IRS to employ greater scrutiny for conservative groups seeking a favorable 501(c)(4) tax status from the government. Click here for full details, as reported on the Frank Beckmann Show on Detroit’s News/Talk 760 WJR.