WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following months of oversight work by the Ways and Means Committee, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Daniel Werfel informed employees in a new memo on Friday of their constitutional and statutory right to make protected disclosures to Congress. Previous communications by the agency to employees may have had a chilling effect on whistleblowers, as they failed to inform them that their rights included sharing concerns directly to Congress. A recent letter from attorneys for Hunter Biden may have had a similar effect for calling into question whether it was appropriate for these employees to come to Congress with their concerns.
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (MO-08) issued the following statement about the IRS’s move to comply with the law following months of the Committee’s oversight work.
“The importance of informing whistleblowers about their rights under the law is vital. The Ways and Means Committee has been conducting rigorous oversight of the extremely troubling allegations of retaliation against the IRS whistleblowers who made disclosures to the Committee, which includes inquiries about communications to IRS employees that neglected to tell employees about their rights to make such disclosures. The IRS must be clear with its employees that they have a constitutional and statutory right to make protected disclosures to Congress. Period. Full stop. Any guidance that does not communicate their ability to do so are chilling and make whistleblowers afraid that they will face consequences for making a disclosure to Congress. Such actions by agency officials are unacceptable.
“One of my first acts as Chairman was to announce a hotline for whistleblowers, and since then, we have received information from IRS employees alleging misconduct and claims of retaliation for speaking out and doing the right thing. I am glad that Commissioner Werfel finally issued a memo with updated guidance, recognizing Congress’s proper role in holding agencies accountable and protecting whistleblowers.”
- Multiple IRS communications were sent to IRS employees reminding them to follow their chain of command. These failed to inform IRS employees of their constitutional and statutory right to make protected disclosures to Congress.
- Ever since the whistleblowers first informed the Committee of the alleged retaliation taken by IRS and DOJ, the Committee has been conducting oversight of these issues.