A federal law intended to protect the privacy of personal tax information has become a “shield” to protect tax agency employees, says tea party favorite Christine O’Donnell, whose tax data was accessed immediately after she announced her Republican Senate candidacy in Delaware nearly three years ago.
“What was written as a well-meaning law to protect taxpayers has inexplicably transformed into a shield for the perpetrators,” O’Donnell wrote in the New York Post Saturday under the headline “Christine O’Donnell: I was a victim of the IRS.”
“Unless the law is changed, there will be no public accountability for those who committed this crime, no one will be brought to justice — and there will be no deterrent preventing such crimes from being committed again.”
O’Donnell defeated former Delaware Gov. Mike Castle, in a 2010 primary for Vice President Joe Biden’s old seat, but lost the general election to Democrat Chris Coons.
The day she announced her candidacy the Internal Revenue Service placed an $11,744 tax lien on a Wilmington home O’Donnell had sold in 2008.
“On March 9, 2010, around 10 a.m., I announced my plans to run for the Senate representing Delaware,” O’Donnell said in her Post column. “Later that same day, my office received a call from a reporter asking about my taxes.
“It’s since come out, after a halting and unenthusiastic investigation, that a Delaware Department of Revenue employee named David Smith accessed my records that day at approximately 2 p.m. — out of curiosity, he says.
“That these records ended up in the hands of the press is just a coincidence, the IRS claims,” O’Donnell said.
“The tax records given to the reporters weren’t even accurate,” she continued. “I had never fallen behind on my taxes, and a supposed tax lien was on a house I no longer owned.
“The lien was highly publicized and used as political ammunition by my political opponents. The IRS later withdrew the lien and blamed it on a computer glitch but, at that point, the damage — and the invasion of my privacy — was done,” O’Donnell said.
She noted how the IRS has admitted to targeting tea party, conservative, and religious groups in their applications for tax-exempt status and acknowledged how “opponents of President Obama have been subjected to audits soon after criticizing the administration.”
In fact, former Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz and other conservatives have charged to Newsmax TV that last month’s indictment of Obama critic and best-selling author Dinesh D’Souza on campaign-finance charges “smacks of selective prosecution.”
“What we all have in common,” O’Donnell said. “No answers.”
A Treasury Department official told O’Donnell in January 2013 that “my tax records were compromised and misused,” she said, but since then, “no one has been called to testify, no more answers given.
“How did Smith’s curiosity become an erroneous tax lien? How did the material end up in the hands of a journalist?” O’Donnell asked. “Neither Smith, nor anyone else in the Delaware Department of Revenue, nor anyone at the IRS, has never been placed under oath to explain this.”
The House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee are investigating the IRS targeting — and Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley has discussed O’Donnell’s case.
Just this week, Grassley and three other Judiciary Committee members called on FBI Director James Comey to answer specific questions regarding the “routine review” of campaign filings, IRS records and other data that led to the D’Souza indictment.
But “in a brutal irony, even if Congress does track down answers, they may not be able to share what they discover with me,” O’Donnell said.
That’s because of the law requiring the privacy of personal tax information.
“Too bad it didn’t protect mine,” O’Donnell said.
“It has already been 10 months since Sen. Grassley and I were told by Treasury Department officials that we would be given information about my case,” she added. “What is taking so long?
“The only way people will be confident the government is truly on their side is if these cases are resolved with the perpetrators held accountable and brought to justice,” O’Donnell said. “Until then, any taxpayer is a potential target.”
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By Todd Beamon