It all started with an ignorant tweet by Vox's Matt Yglesias, who falsely claimed that "It's impressive that the IRS never leaks." The New York Times's Nick Kristof, apparently unaware or indifferent to the fact that he was simultaneously engaging in breathtaking hypocrisy and playing with fire, saw an opportunity to advertise his paper's law-subverting services, and tweeted the paper's physical address to those who are "in IRS and have a certain president's tax return that you'd like to leak."
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The National Organization for Marriage knows Yglesias's claim, made in the following tweet, is rubbish:
In June 2014, NOM announced that the IRS had admitted that the organization's donor list was illegally leaked to groups supporting same-sex marriage (bolds are mine throughout this post):
IRS Admits Wrongdoing in Release of the National Organization for Marriage's Confidential Tax Return and Donor List; Agrees to Pay $50,000 in Settlement of Lawsuit
"Thanks to a lot of hard work, we've forced the IRS to admit that they in fact were the ones to break the law and wrongfully released this confidential information." — John Eastman, NOM chairman
Washington, D.C. — In response to a lawsuit brought by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has admitted wrongdoing in releasing the organization's confidential tax return and donor list which was obtained by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), NOM's chief political rival. The IRS has agreed to pay NOM $50,000 to settle the lawsuit.
"It has been a long and arduous process to hold the IRS accountable for their illegal release of our confidential tax return and donor list, which was ultimately given to our chief political rival by the recipient," said John Eastman, NOM's chairman and a member of the ActRight legal Foundation team that brought the lawsuit against the IRS on NOM's behalf in October, 2013. "In the beginning, the government claimed that the IRS had done nothing wrong and that NOM itself must have released our confidential information. Thanks to a lot of hard work, we've forced the IRS to admit that they in fact were the ones to break the law and wrongfully released this confidential information."
NOM said that an investigation revealed that its 2008 tax return and list of major donors was released to Matthew Meisel, a gay activist in Boston, MA. Email correspondence from Meisel revealed that he told a colleague that he had "a conduit" to obtain NOM's confidential information. While testifying under oath in a deposition in the litigation, Meisel invoked the 5th Amendment against self-incrimination and refused to disclose the identity of his conduit. Documents obtained during the litigation prove that Meisel then provided NOM's tax data to the Human Rights Campaign (whose president was a national Co-Chair of the Obama Reelection Campaign). The information was also published by the Huffington Post.
NOM noted in its original lawsuit filing that "the HRC used this confidential donor information to harass our donors ... a chilling set of circumstances that should ring alarm bells across the nation.”
Though NOM and others demanded further investigation to identify and prosecute the leaker, the Obama administration's hyper-politicized Justice Department never pursued the matter, leaving the IRS, which claimed without having to show proof that the leak occurred because of a rogue employee, off the hook beyond a tiny check paid out of the government's equivalent of petty cash.
The Times's Kristof used Yglesias's tweet as an excuse to encourage the IRS to do what it supposedly never does (but we know better):
For those who recall the paper's history of double standards in handling leaked information, the hypocrisy is obvious, as Ed Driscoll observed at Instapundit Sunday evening:
Of course, the Gray Lady is pretty selective when it comes to reporting leaked documents – not to mention simply reporting news. When the “Hide the Decline” Climategate scandal involving the University of East Anglia climate research center broke in 2009, then-Timesman Andrew Revkin, who wrote their “Dot Earth” enviro-blog, sniffed, “The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won’t be posted here.”
Instapundit proprietor Glenn Reynolds, who also observed that "The NYTimes is cheering on the weaponization of the IRS against people they don’t like," separately reminded the Times that Kristof's tweet will likely leave his employer defenseless if the desired information ever arrives:
... Bartnicki v. Vopper won’t protect you if you yourself actually solicited the illegally publicized material.
Reynolds and others are technically right, but the Times and its reporters apparently believe they're untouchable, and that anything and everything is justified in the name of undermining, discrediting and ultimately removing Donald Trump. Though the current instance may ultimately be a welcome exception, they have, unfortunately, rarely been proven wrong and held accountable.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.