Archives for April 2015

CoA Uncovers Questionable Practice between the DOJ and White House

WASHINGTON – Cause of Action, a nonprofit government accountability organization, has uncovered an ongoing practice at the Department of Justice whereby Tax Division attorneys, some of whom have worked directly on IRS targeting matters, are assigned to the White House to provide legal advice to the President.

“This ongoing practice raises ethical and legal questions because of these attorneys’ access to confidential taxpayer returns and return information,” said Cause of Action President Dan Epstein. “The public deserves to know whether ethical and legal safeguards have been in place to prevent taxpayer information from getting into the wrong hands — especially when those who access that information work in the White House.”

In order to determine whether such proper safeguards exist, we are today submitting a series of public records requests.

In particular, we’re seeking information about 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.

Read the Freedom of Information Act requests we are filing, as well as the letter we are sending to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz below.

CoA DOJ OIG Letter by Cause of Action


2015-4-15 FOIA Request ODAG

CoA FOIA Request DOJ-JMD re OWHC Details

CoA FOIA Request DOJ-OPR re OWHC Details

CoA FOIA Request DOJ-PRAO re OWHC Details

CoA FOIA Request DOJ-Tax re OWHC Details

Washington Examiner: Justice Department officials may have shared taxpayer info with White House

Read the full story: Washington Examiner

Attorneys from the Department of Justice’s tax division may have improperly shared confidential taxpayer information with President Obama’s White House staff for political reasons, a watchdog group said.


Cause of Action, a nonprofit government watchdog group, filed a series of Freedom of Information Act requests Wednesday for records demonstrating whether Justice attorneys — some of whom worked directly on elements of the Internal Revenue Service targeting scandal — leaked protected information to Obama administration officials while detailed to the Office of White House Counsel.


“Documents obtained by Cause of Action have revealed that since 2009, several DOJ Tax Division attorneys, many of whom have been involved in litigation where … protected information was involved, have elected to serve the president as ‘clearance counsel,’ ” Daniel Epstein, president of Cause of Action, wrote in a letter to Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department’s inspector general.

Washington Examiner: Interactive graphic: Hillary Clinton’s insider network

Read the full story: Washington Examiner 

Daniel Epstein, Cause of Action’s Executive Director, says, “Due to Secretary Clinton’s failure to preserve emails on an authorized system, and the State Department’s failure to preserve any employee text messages at all, the full truth of whether Mrs. Clinton’s associations improperly influenced her decisions will never be known… Unfortunately, this lack of transparency has become the norm in Washington.”


The Hill: Federal secrecy watchdog has yet to bite

Read the full story: The Hill 

The federal agency charged decades ago with policing excessive government secrecy has never taken a single action against a federal official.


Transparency advocates fear the Office of Special Counsel’s (OSC) inability to carry out a prosecution points to problems in the underlying law and represents a lost opportunity by Congress to hold federal officials accountable for cover-ups.


“There is a risk that there is a lot of arbitrary and capricious withholding, and DOJ [the Department of Justice] is just not doing its job in making sure these individuals are held to account,” said Dan Epstein, executive director of the right-leaning Cause of Action.


“It appears that process isn’t happening, which provides incentives to employees to withhold documents.”