The Corner

IRS to Pay $50K in Damages for 2012 Leak

Last summer, National Review Online reported on the suspicious leak of National Organization Marriage (NOM) donor information. As we reported then, “When it comes to IRS abuse, NOM is in a league of its own: As-yet-unknown IRS personnel may have dug into the records of NOM specifically and leaked confidential tax documents to its principal political opponent.”

After long denying that it had anything to do with the 2012 leak — which resulted in NOM’s donors being listed on the website of the Human Rights Campaign, NOM’s principal political opponent — the IRS has agreed to pay $50,000 in damages, admitting that it was, in fact, the source of the leak.

However, the settlement marks only a partial victory for NOM. As the organization noted in its press release:

We learned during the course of the litigation that the tax return was disclosed to a gay rights activist in Boston by the name of Matthew Meisel, and that Meisel subsequently disclosed the illegally-obtained donor information to NOM’s political adversary, the Human Rights Campaign, which posted it on the internet.  We also learned that Meisel claimed to have a “promising conduit” who could obtain the tax return donor information.  That sure sounds like a lot more than an inadvertent mistake, as the IRS has claimed.  But Meisel refused to answer our questions during his deposition, asserting his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. 

Without that information, there is no proof that the IRS leak was intentional; it was just an “inadvertent mistake” that, coincidentally, worked to the benefit of NOM’s political rivals. Moreover, because the IRS maintains that the leak was unintentional, the $50,000 is compensation for legal hassles, not punitive damages.

There is much still unknown about NOM’s case, but this most recent development is, without a doubt, progress.

Ian Tuttle — Ian Tuttle is the former Thomas L. Rhodes Journalism Fellow at the National Review Institute.

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More