Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Second IRS Scandal: The Leaking of NOM's Prop 8 Donors List

Attention is focused on Congressional hearings, the mysteriously disappearing emails of Lois Lerner and other key IRS players, and the statements of the new IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, that no crime was committed: “I have the ability to say that I see no evidence of any crime.” Lost in the furor over the IRS targeting of conservatives is Tuesday's acknowledged criminal leakage by the IRS of the donors to the National Organization of Marriage NOM). NOM is the major organization behind California’s Prop 8, the referendum that amended California’s constitution to allow only heterosexual marriages in California. The highly controversial measure was passed by the voters, but invalidated by the lower courts, whose decisions were upheld by the Supreme Court on the technical grounds that NOM and other supporters of Prop 8 lacked legal standing to defend the measure in federal court once California’s Governor and Attorney General refused to defend it. That’s all legally technical. I’ve blogged before that I support same-sex marriage, so that’s not the issue in this blog. The issue is that under federal law the IRS cannot publicly disclose the names of the donors to these political organizations. The names of the donors were leaked in February 2012 to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), an leading opponent of Prop 8. HRC posted the donors list online during the 2012 Presidential campaign. The Huffington Post posted on the same day that a political action committed associated with Governor Romney contributed $10,000 to NOM. HRC’s President Joe Solmonese left the next day to become a co-chairman of President Obama’s reelection campaign. This case, as with the broader IRS scandal, is replete with coincidences, Fifth Amendment, and lack of transparency. The disclosure of the donors list is a felony. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is a Yale Law School grad; he asserts the IRS committed no crime. The Chairman of NOM is Professor John Eastman, a conservative (more conservative than me) colleague of mine. John is a brilliant graduate of Chicago Law School, who clerked for Justice Scalia. He is a strict constructionist of the Constitution. He and Professor Tom Caso run the Constitutional Rights Clinic at the Dale E. Fowler School of Law at Chapman University. John wins some, and loses some, but he is a tenacious litigator. NOM brought suit against the IRS for the violation of its rights. Pre-trial discovery found emails from Matthew Meisel, who received the leaked donors list, that he had a “conduit” in the IRS. Matthew was the direct recipient of the leaked donors list. He then turned it over to the Human Rights Campaign. Matthew is taking the Fifth Amendment and refusing to testify. The IRS admitted Tuesday that it had violated NOM’s rights and entered in a $50,000 settlement with NOM to cover its expenses. NOM’s attorneys are now seeking their legal fees in the lawsuit.

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