IRS Lawyers Get New Job as White House Advisors

Group complains that there are no provisions to prevent these former IRS lawyers from using private information about taxpayers and Tea Party groups.

When Lois Lerner used her position to select and target Tea Party organizations for special scrutiny and abusive treatment, she did not act alone. She had lawyers helping with her plan. The IRS has lawyers after all, and their role for the IRS is similar to that of lawyers for the NSA devising ways to claim that the Patriot Act authorizes bulk data collection—even though judges disagree once the matter finally gets heard in court.

What has happened to the lawyers involved in targeting Tea Party groups?

Some of them are now advising the White House, according to a report by the Washington Examiner. To be moved from the IRS to the White House sounds like a promotion to me. It seems that the White House is publicly siding with these lawyers and declaring to the world that they think they are reliable.

But the affront of these lawyers getting to advise the White House goes further. It is not just the fact that people who should get punished are being treated with honor by the White House; there is also the question of what do they know or what information do they possess about Tea Party groups.

Tax Division attorneys from the Department of Justice, some of whom worked directly on the IRS’ illegal targeting of Tea Party groups, are now giving legal advice to the White House with no safeguards to prevent the abuse of private taxpayer information, says a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court of D.C. by a watchdog group.

Cause of Action, a nonprofit government accountability group, filed the complaint against the DOJ and the IRS after both government agencies refused to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests filed in April asking how Americans’ private tax information will be protected from abuse by government attorneys.

“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 Dan Epstein, president of Cause of Action, in a statement. “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.”

There is no reason in the world to trust these lawyers to obey the law if they are not being held accountable. Cause of Action is right to express concern.