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Ways and Means Republicans Demand DOJ Answer for Inadequate Charging Decisions for ProPublica Leaker

November 8, 2023 — Blog    — Letter    — Oversight    — Press Releases   

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Wednesday, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (MO-08), joined by every Republican member of the Committee, sent a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) demanding DOJ explain their misguided decision to charge Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employee, Charles Edward Littlejohn, with just one count of unauthorized disclosure of private tax information. Littlejohn pleaded guilty to that charge last month and admitted to stealing the confidential tax information of thousands of Americans, including former President Donald J. Trump, and subsequently leaking that information to news organizations.  

“Mr. Littlejohn pled guilty to a single charge of unauthorized disclosure of tax information despite explicitly detailing his two separate and distinct unauthorized disclosures. Those disclosures involved two sets of information that were disclosed at two different times to two distinct organizations covering thousands of taxpayers. We have not been able to determine how DOJ could possibly charge Mr. Littlejohn with only one count of unauthorized disclosure,” wrote Chairman Smith and Ways and Means Republicans.

Before requesting in a series of questions that the DOJ explain its decision as well as how the Department plans to notify the thousands affected by Littlejohn’s illegal activities, Ways and Means Republicans in their letter highlight how DOJ’s actions will likely fail to make future potential criminals think twice:

“Ways and Means Committee Republicans have pushed federal investigators for years to get to the bottom of who stole and leaked taxpayer information. When the criminal leaker was finally caught, we expected that he would face severe consequences for his actions that would both punish him while also serving to deter future, similar misconduct. Unfortunately, DOJ elected to charge only one count, and, even though as part of his plea agreement Mr. Littlejohn admitted to obstructing the investigation, DOJ also failed to charge him for obstruction.”

Background:

September 2023: DOJ charges Charles Edward Littlejohn with one count of unauthorized disclosure of private tax information, despite him making two separate disclosures of thousands of Americans private tax information to news organizations and admitting to obstruction of justice in his plea agreement.

March 2023: Chairman Smith calls on Secretary Yellen to explain what she was doing to get to the bottom of the crime and provide Americans with an update. Secretary Yellen responds that she referred the matter to investigators.

February 2023: Chairman Smith writes a letter to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration demanding an explanation for why Americans were still in the dark 19 months after the latest leak.

June 2021: In response to the leak of confidential taxpayer information published by ProPublica that appeared to come from inside the IRS, Republican tax writers call for transparency and an investigation. Then Republican leader of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, Rep. Mike Kelly, demand answers on the breach as well.

September 2020: After President Trump’s confidential tax information was leaked to the New York Times, the top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee raises concerns about the breach.

Flashback: ProPublica previously received (and published) leaked taxpayer information from the IRS in 2012 that just so happened to include critics of the Democrat administration.

READ: Smith: Prosecution of IRS Leaker Comes After Years of Republican Calls for Investigation, Will IRS Explain What Happened and How They Will Fix It?

READ: Chairman Smith: After giving the IRS an $80 billion raise, the Biden Admin now wants taxpayers to give the IRS another $43.2 billion.

READ: Government Watchdog Says IRS Needs to Address Critical Safeguard Weaknesses 

READ: ICYMI: Ways and Means Democrats Ignore Potentially Criminal Leak of President’s Taxes in Largely Partisan Hearing on “Taxpayer Fairness”