House investigators say that IRS officials gave confidential taxpayer information to White House aides to help President Obama's team fight lawsuits filed against the Health and Human Services contraception mandate.
House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., confronted the IRS's Sarah Hall Ingram about emails she exchanged with White House aides about organizations that would qualify for an exemption from the HHS mandate.
"Well, one of the areas of interest is there’s a significant redaction that quotes the statute 6103. Do you know who is underneath that blackout?" Issa asked Ingram, who said she didn't remember the email.
Issa's team infers that the redacted information is confidential taxpayer information because of the legal authority the IRS invokes to justify not revealing it to the congressional committee, section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code.
Section 6103 bans “disclos[ing] any return or return information obtained by him in any manner in connection with his service as such an officer or an employee.”
"The documents indicate that Hall Ingram and her subordinates violated the IRS’s traditional role as an impartial administrator of the tax code by using their expertise and knowledge to advise the White House on a politically controversial subject: the four-prong test for religious exemption to the contraception mandate," according to a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee statement concerning the emails.
"The substance and the context of this exchange indicate that the White House hoped to include religious-affiliated schools — such as Wheaton College — within the scope of the Form 990 filing exemption in order to moot the lawsuits filed. This e-mail exchange, indicates that Hall Ingram counseled the White House on a strategy for dismissing lawsuits that challenged the administration’s infringement of religious liberty."