The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a pro-traditional marriage organization, alleges that confidential tax forms were either leaked or stolen from the IRS and illegally distributed by its opponents to the media.
On March 30, the Huffington Post published an article revealing that in 2008 Mitt Romney’s Free and Strong America PAC donated $10,000 to NOM, a 501(c)(4) non-profit group not legally required to disclose its donors. The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein reported the information came from NOM’s 990 IRS tax form, which had been originally posted on the website of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a pro-gay rights organization.
The form, a 990 Schedule B, reveals 50 of NOM’s donors. HRC has said the tax form came from a “whistleblower.” NOM is claiming that the form posted on HRC’s website has been digitally altered, with a non-altered version showing that the document is for “official use only” and has a document ID number for the IRS’s internal use.
On April 11, NOM’s chairman, John Eastman, and its president, Brian Brown, sent the IRS inspector general a letter with their complaint. Here’s an excerpt:
Last week, NOM became aware that its 2008 Form 990 Schedule B (“2008 Scheulde B”) has been unlawfully obtained from the IRS by the Human Rights Campaign (“HRC”) and the Huffington Post and published by both of these entities, as well as subsequent publication by other organizations and individuals.
It is apparent from the copy of the NOM’s 2008 Schedule B that appears on the HRC and Huffington Post websites that the purloined 2008 Schedule B is the official version filed with the IRS, such that the source of the illegal public release can only be the IRS.
A spokesman for the IRS told the Daily Caller that it takes confidentiality “very seriously” and will be conducting an investigation into the possible leak.
Eastman and Brown have also sent letters to HRC president Joe Solmonese and Huffington Post editor in chief Arianna Huffington. NOM argues that by publishing the form, both organizations are in violation of federal law regarding tax return disclosure. The code NOM cites reads as follows: "It shall be unlawful for any person to whom any return or return information...is disclosed in a manner unauthorized by this title thereafter willfully to print or publish in any manner not provided by law any such return or return information." The letters also claim that both HRC and the Huffington Post are liable for civil damages as a result of the publication of these forms.
Each letter contains attached screenshots of HRC’s website showing the confidential forms as they were originally posted there. Those forms have since been removed, although they remain accessible through the Huffington Post.
“I do believe they are wholeheartedly serious,” Brown says of the IRS and its investigation. Brown adds that NOM’s lawyers say that such a leak of an individual non-profit group’s tax forms is “not normal” and that he suspects the HRC was engaging in foul play.
“This is not the first time the Human Rights Campaign has used deplorable tactics,” Brown says. HRC spokesman Fred Sainz issued this statement in an email to THE WEEKLY STANDARD:
NOM’s charges of illegal conduct by HRC are absolutely false. In the past few weeks HRC lawfully obtained and disseminated truthful information about NOM’s racial-wedge strategy and secret donors. Noticeably absent from NOM’s allegations is any awareness of First Amendment freedoms. Embarrassed that its true agenda is out in the open, NOM has launched a crusade to intimidate and suppress those who are revealing its anti-LGBT mission. HRC has no intention of helping NOM to suppress the truth.