The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the anti-gay group leading efforts to oppose same-sex marriage laws, is calling for a federal investigation of the Human Rights Campaign and the IRS.
In a statement released on Thursday, NOM expressed outrage that HRC on March 30 released a confidential 2008 IRS tax return from the Washington, D.C.-based group showing a list of 50 contributors to the group’s campaign supporting Proposition 8. Proposition 8 is the ballot measure through which voters overturned California’s same-sex marriage law.
“It appears that someone with either the IRS or the HRC may have committed a federal crime by illegally obtaining and then releasing a confidential tax return of the National Organization for Marriage,” said Brian Brown, the group’s president. “It’s clear that the tax return was stolen, either from NOM or from the government.”
HRC has said it obtained the NOM IRS filing through a whistleblower but has not provided further details on the whistleblower’s identity.
NOM’s call for an investigation into the release of the IRS form comes less than two weeks after HRC legally acquired and publicized internal NOM documents obtained through an ongoing investigation by the State of Maine into alleged improper campaign finance practices by NOM.
Those documents include a strategic plan by NOM to “drive a wedge between gays and blacks” in an effort to defeat same-sex marriage laws throughout the country. LGBT and black civil rights leaders have condemned the NOM strategy as a calculated attempt to divide Americans for political gain.
The documents were made public on March 26 by the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices.
The Maine investigation began after gay Republican activist Fred Karger of California filed a formal complaint charging NOM with illegal “money laundering” in its campaign to pass Amendment 1, a 2009 ballot measure that overturned Maine’s same-sex marriage law.
“It’s the height of hypocrisy for NOM to claim others are violating the law – since NOM has flagrantly violated campaign finance and tax laws and is currently under investigation,” said Fred Sainz, an HRC spokesperson. “NOM is clearly trying to change the conversation away from their unethical practices as well as the secret memos that we brought to light last week showing their ugly race-baiting tactics and their nondisclosure of a contribution from Governor Romney that was clearly meant for Prop 8,” Sainz said.
He was referring to a $10,000 contribution shown in the leaked IRS tax return identified as coming from a political action committee formed by Mitt Romney, the current GOP presidential candidate, called Free and Strong America. The 2008 contribution was made to NOM, and HRC and other LGBT advocates say it was intended to support efforts to pass Proposition 8.
“We’re talking about a criminal who has stolen confidential tax return information,” Brown of NOM said in the group’s April 5 statement. “We demand to know who this criminal is, whether they work for the HRC or the IRS, and how they obtained confidential tax information filed only with the U.S. government,” Brown said.
“I would like to know what the HRC knew and when did they know it,” added Brown. “It certainly appears that either the HRC was involved in illegally obtaining this tax return themselves, or they worked with a criminal who stole it from NOM or the IRS. Either way, it appears that a federal crime may have been committed.”
Brown said in his statement that he would submit a “written demand” that the IRS and the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia open an investigation into the matter.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office declined to comment. “We typically do not confirm or deny investigations and have no comment,” the spokesperson said in an email to the Blade.
A spokesperson for the IRS didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.