BY KEVIN HALL AND DAVID LIGHTMAN, MCCLATCHY WASHINGTON BUREAU
WASHINGTON -- A tax document listing donors to a group opposed to gay marriage was leaked illegally from within the Internal Revenue Service, a congressional committee was told Tuesday.
The group posting the document, the Human Rights Campaign, had close ties to the Obama administration – and camouflaged the document to hide its source, the panel heard.
The allegation came from John Eastman, a California law professor and chairman of the National Organization for Marriage. He was among several leaders of conservative groups who say they were unfairly targeted by the IRS for their beliefs and stonewalled when applying for tax-exempt status.
Testifying before the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday, these groups chronicled how the IRS, which already has acknowledged some culpability, used inappropriate criteria to flag them and subject them to demands for information, apparently to slow down the applications.
Democrats apologized and acknowledged that the IRS appears to have overreached. But for the first time since committees began hearing testimony on the controversy last month, they also fought back, saying the agency must provide some level of scrutiny to applications for tax-exempt status.
Dozens of groups across the country have stepped forward to detail this sort of treatment.
Eastman’s group has tax-exempt status, but his testimony Tuesday added another dimension to the ongoing scandal.
Eastman said inside help was given to the nation’s largest gay-rights group, Human Rights Campaign, which posted on March 30, 2012, a copy of a previous National Organization for Marriage’s confidential Form 990 Schedule B, from 2008. The document included donor names and donation details provided to the Internal Revenue Service.