Cause of Action, a nonprofit government accountability organization, recently discovered that the Department of Justice has been placing their Tax Division attorneys, some of whom have worked directly on the IRS targeting scandal, in the White House to provide legal advice to the President.
Having found no evidence of agency policies in place to safeguard against confidential tax information being shared with the wrong people, this practice of DOJ attorneys being detailed at the White House is alarmingly urgent.
In April, Cause of Action submitted several Freedom of Information Act requests and sent a letter to the Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz. These documents sought answers to whether appropriate legal and ethical safeguards are in place at both the Office of White House Counsel, as well as the DOJ, to ensure that detailed attorneys are appropriately screened to prevent confidential taxpayer returns and/or return information protected under Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code from being unlawfully accessed or disclosed.
Having received no response from the government since our April requests, Cause of Action on Tuesday filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the Department of Justice and Internal Revenue Service.
As the complaint states, CoA is seeking the release of records relating to how the federal government protects Americans’ private tax information when government attorneys have the power to access and disclose that information. These records have been requested and improperly withheld by the Internal Revenue Service and United States Department of Justice.
“Given the IRS’ track record of failing to protect confidential tax information, this lack of agency oversight is a threat to our privacy and democracy,” said Cause of Action President Dan Epstein. “Ethical and legal protocols at these agencies should be held to the highest standards, especially when government attorneys are accessing confidential taxpayer return information while intermittently leaving to work in the White House.”
The case number is 15-cv-00770.[Read the Complaint below]