Karl Rove and Miss America have something in common: Organizations affiliated with each of them had their confidential tax information made public last month by the House Ways and Means Committee. What’s more, there’s probably nothing those groups — or more than a dozen others in the same boat — can do about it.
Ways and Means staff maintain that the committee acted within its rights when it posted the organizations’ names and details online. But several practitioners and scholars who spoke with Tax Analysts were skeptical of those assertions. Some said the committee may have broken the law.
The mass disclosure happened April 9, when Ways and Means voted along party lines to refer former IRS official Lois Lerner to the Justice Department for criminal investigation. The committee accused Lerner, former exempt organizations director in the IRS Tax-Exempt and Government Entities Division and the central figure in the Service’s EO scandal that began last May, of depriving conservative groups of their constitutional rights, impeding official investigations, and putting confidential taxpayer information at risk.