Jun 26, 2014
Catholic News Agency/EWTN News—A federal court has ordered the IRS to pay $50,000 to the National Organization for Marriage due to the leak of confidential tax documents, but the organization has called for further investigation to determine the extent of the wrongdoing.
“Thanks to a lot of hard work, we’ve forced the IRS to admit that they in fact were the ones to break the law and wrongfully released this confidential information,” National Organization for Marriage chairman John Eastman said June 24.
|Credit: Fibonacci Blue via Flickr.com (CC BY 2.0)
National Organization for Marriage rally against same-sex marriage July 28, 2010, in St. Paul.
“While we are very pleased that the IRS has been exposed as being responsible for this leak of our confidential information to our political opponents, we believe the IRS may still be hiding information from the American people,” he added.
On June 23, a consent judgment issued by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia sided with the pro-marriage organization’s lawsuit that sought to uncover suspected wrongdoing at the IRS.
The lawsuit concerned the disclosure of confidential documents in early 2012.
Around that time, Matthew Meisel, an activist in Boston, received the National Organization for Marriage’s 2008 tax return and a list of its major donors from a “conduit,” his e-mails showed. Some of the documents were labeled for official government use only.
Meisel then gave these records to the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group at the time headed by Joe Solmonese, a co-chair of Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential re-election campaign. The advocacy group published some of the documents, as did the Huffington Post.
The National Organization for Marriage, which supports marriage as a union of one man and one woman, qualifies as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization. It is obliged to make public its tax returns, though not explicitly confidential portions such as donor lists.
The organization filed a lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service in May 2013 saying that the Department of the Treasury’s inspector general, the Department of Justice and the IRS had been uncooperative in the investigation of how the documents became public.
In May 2013, Eastman said that the Human Rights Campaign had sought the National Organization for Marriage’s donor list “for a long time” so that others could “start harassing our donors and boycotting their businesses.”
At a legal deposition, Meisel invoked Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination and refused to say how he obtained the documents.
The National Organization for Marriage is now calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to grant immunity to Meisel in order to “force him to disclose the identity of his conduit.” The organization has also urged Congress to examine the case.
“It’s imperative that all those who have engaged in corrupt practices and illegal acts in the IRS be identified and held accountable,” Eastman said.
The National Organization for Marriage is also seeking an award of attorney fees to help defray the costs of litigation.