Paul L. Caron

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 331

IRS Logo 2PJ Media:  The Fascist Thugs Win One: Firefox CEO Steps Down (Update: IRS Role Exposed):

Brendan Eich committed a thoughtcrime. He supports the traditional definition of marriage. For that, he has now joined the ranks of the unemployed. ...

Update: Check this out. The IRS abuse scandal started the process that got Eich ousted.

Why, then, the ruckus? Amazingly enough, it is entirely due to the fact that Eich made a $1,000 donation to the campaign urging a ‘yes’ vote on California’s Proposition 8. When this fact first came to light in 2012, after the Internal Revenue Service leaked a copy of the National Organization for Marriage’s 2008 tax return to a gay-advocacy group, Eich, who was then CTO of Mozilla, published a post on his personal blog stating that his donation was not motivated by any sort of animosity towards gays or lesbians, and challenging those who did not believe this to cite any “incident where I displayed hatred, or ever treated someone less than respectfully because of group affinity or individual identity.”

To whom did the IRS leak NOM’s files? The Human Rights Campaign.

The HRC evidently engineered Eich’s ouster, in the name of equality and tolerance.

The IRS actions create a serious chilling effect. Your donations to any group can be leaked by a hostile operative within the government, to your enemies, for use against you — up to and now including costing you your job.

Reason:  No, the IRS Didn’t Leak Mozilla Ex-CEO’s Donation in Opposition to Gay Marriage:

Dear conservatives: Please don't make me have to write in defense of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). I certainly don’t enjoy it.

As Nick Gillespie has noted, Brendan Eich stepped down yesterday as chief executive officer of Mozilla in the wake of the scandal that he donated $1,000 in support of California’s Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that forbid state recognition of same-sex marriage.

The outrage has now completely flipped to the opposite direction, with conservatives accusing those who railed against Mozilla of intolerance. Twitter has remained submerged beneath a sea of outrage and generalizations for the duration.

Two days ago, an anonymous tech industry worker wrote a piece about the outrage against Eich at First Things, a journal produced by nonprofit Institute on Religion and Public Life. The anonymous worker stated that Eich's donation came to light in 2012, "after the Internal Revenue Service leaked a copy of the National Organization for Marriage's 2008 tax return to a gay-advocacy group." This information is now being attached and included in coverage on other conservative blogs as well.

But it's not accurate. The names of donors in the Proposition 8 battle, for and against, have always been public information, even before the election. The Los Angeles Times has a searchable database here. Eich's name is on it (as is mine—I gave $100 in opposition and ultimately regretted it after seeing the horrible, useless ads they put together to fight Prop. 8). The information came from the California secretary of state's office, not some IRS leak. This database is not dated, but they were available and were online at some media outlets prior to the 2008 vote.

The possible IRS leak is a real thing, though. First Things didn't invent it, just misunderstood it. The IRS is accused of leaking the National Organization for Marriage's (NOM) tax records from 2008 to the Human Rights Campaign. The IRS has claimed the release of the records was "inadvertent." The records included names of donors to NOM, but while NOM was responsible for organizing and pushing forward Proposition 8, it's not the same list. Eich donated to Prop. 8, not to NOM. Eich's name and donation to Proposition 8 was always a public record and searchable even before the election. People were facing public criticism for their donations at their workplaces even at the time of the vote. Eich is not the first guy to deal with this sort of backlash, and it prompted debate over whether names of donors should be public.

We can blame a multitude of sins on the IRS and President Barack Obama, but the outrage over Eich is not one of them.

IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink


Some people advocate making all tax returns public, so that everyone can be harassed into conformity. Although few people publicly advocate it, I'm sure many ideologues would prefer to eliminate the secret ballot for the same reason.

There are plenty of people willing to advocate open ballots for union elections, and the Constitution does not require a secret ballot. Eventual loss of our secret ballot is not impossible if public preferences continue to march leftward.

Posted by: AMTbuff | Apr 6, 2014 8:54:56 AM

Does Mr. Eich have a cause of action, legally? The IRS illegally gave out tax information, and that harmed him. It was not *his* tax information, though. And he must prove that it was this release that harmed him, if the information was public information already---that but for this release he would have kept his job. Even then, there's sovereign immunity to deal with. Anybody know the answer?

Posted by: Eric Rasmusen | Apr 5, 2014 5:56:58 PM

Targeting and harrassing donors to political opponents is totalitarian. All too many ideologues on the left are nevertheless quite comfortable with the tactic.

People willing to advance their cause "by any means necessary" caused untold death and destruction in the 20th century. If only this century could be different.

Posted by: AMTbuff | Apr 5, 2014 11:49:29 AM

Whenever someone defends a corrupt IRS or tries to divert attention away from left-wing activists, you need to look behind the analysis.

Scott Shackford in "Reason" reveals that there was an earlier source for Prop 8 donors. However, Shackford does not know if the targeting of Eich came from that list or from the IRS leak, which is important.

Despite alternate sources of gossip, the one which caused the damage is guilty. And, we do know that the illegal IRS leak to a gay activist group did bring the most recent attention to donors who had escaped the horrible first round of radical gay attacks.

Shackford added that "First Things" admitted an error, but the site said that they were in error about "Eich's tax return" being made public by the IRS -- not his donation on the tax return of the non-profit, which is different and may have resulted from terminology confusion but is not clear. Still, "First Things" is accurate in that the attacks on Eich began "after the Internal Revenue Service leaked a copy of the National Organization for Marriage’s 2008 tax return to a gay-advocacy group."

The IRS leak created renewed attention, and it is entirely reasonable to assume that it was the catalyst for the latest round of political targeting.

The point is that the IRS should not be making lists of donors available to political action groups that it favors, which it has done. An additional point is that there should be greater responsibility and accountability on the part of the Service and its employees to insure privacy and protection of taxpayers, who would otherwise find themselves in the crosshairs of extreme radicals. A final point is that a special prosecutor must be appointed to find the guilty members of the IRS, hold them personally accountable, and redeem the reputation of the Service.

Don't let this pass because someone gives an alternate explanation as to the source. It's an attempt to deflect attention from political and criminal attacks of radicals, who are intent on destroying lives when they cannot win the debate...and who count on the IRS to help them.

Posted by: Woody | Apr 5, 2014 10:13:00 AM