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In addition to its ongoing harassment of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, the IRS is also carrying out audits on right-leaning organizations on a level that cannot be coincidental and improperly sharing sensitive information with rival liberal organizations, according to one of the lead attorneys for groups accusing the IRS of misconduct.
Cleta Mitchell made headlines Thursday when she told congressional investigators that the IRS scandal is ongoing and the Justice Department investigation into the alleged abuses is a nonexistent “sham.” However, Mitchell also said conservative groups and individuals continue to find themselves in the IRS cross-hairs in large numbers and the cases are not at all limited to those seeking tax-exempt status.
“There’s been something going on in terms of the returns themselves and the high number of individuals who became politically active,” Mitchell said. “I had an email from someone (Thursday) who saw the testimony on TV and said, ‘I created a website for our local tea-party group and then I was audited by the IRS.’ I have heard stories like that over and over and over again. I want a prosecutor or someone to conduct a statistical analysis of those who have been audited the last two or three years.
“It isn’t just big donors, unlike what the IRS commissioner said (Wednesday) when trying to justify why so many major donors to Romney were audited. It’s individuals. It’s small businesses, web designers, people who provided services to tea-party groups. They’ve been subject to audits as well. I do not believe that it is statistically random,” Mitchell said. “I think that if anyone actually did the analysis that it would be clear these were not randomly selected.”
Listen to Radio America’s interview with Cleta Mitchell below:
Another open question centers on whether the IRS not only overstepped its bounds in demanding sensitive information from conservatives but subsequently colluded with liberal organizations with that same data. One of Mitchell's clients is the National Organization for Marriage, or NOM, one of the leading defenders of traditional marriage across the country. Multiple reports assert the IRS not only demanded excessive amounts of data regarding the group's donors but that the information subsequently turned up in the possession of the Human Right Campaign, HRC, the most prominent interest group promoting same-sex marriage and other aspects of the homosexual agenda.
NOM is suing the IRS over the matter, and Mitchell is limited in what she can say as the discovery phase of the case unfolds. She said the lack of transparency from the IRS has been infuriating, but what she has uncovered thus far has been stunning.
"We asked for an Inspector General's report to find out what happened and why NOM's donor schedule was released to the HRC. How did that happen? Who did it?" she asked.
"There was an Inspector General's investigation, which the IRS would then not give to us. They said even though the law is to protect the taxpayer, in this case the National Organization for Marriage, the IRS has construed that to mean that they cannot tell you information about the unlawful inspection or release of your tax return because then that would implicate the perpetrator's confidential information. Therefore, they have to protect the perpetrator, the IRS employee, and they cannot and will not then tell you anything," Mitchell said.
"We have had to sue the IRS and we are beginning to get information. Discovery closes mid-March and we are learning some things that we are going to be making public within the next few weeks. Suffice to say it is shocking to learn the kinds of things the IRS employees are doing in terms of accessing confidential taxpayer information," she said.