After IRS whistleblowers alleged retaliation for their disclosures about the conduct of the Hunter Biden investigation, a top IRS official notified employees of at least some of their rights.
Doug O’Donnell, deputy IRS commissioner for services and enforcement, told employees the “IRS is deeply committed to protecting the role of whistleblowers,” according to an email referenced by Republican lawmakers.
The email to employees, notifying them of their rights under the law, says employees can make disclosures to a supervisor, IRS management, the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General, or the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
But House and Senate Republicans note that the message “blatantly fails to provide that IRS employees have the right to make lawful disclosures to Congress,” in calling for the Office of Special Counsel to investigate the matter.
Federal law 26 U.S.C. § 6103(f)(5), an anti-gag provision, prohibits federal resources, the use of tax dollars, or nondisclosure agreements from restricting protected disclosures.
IRS special agent Gary Shapley, a 14-year veteran of the IRS, and a separate, anonymous whistleblower, told the House Ways and Means Committee that the probe of President Joe Biden’s son was stalled and that certain charges weren’t brought.
“The importance of protecting whistleblowers from unlawful retaliation and informing whistleblowers about their rights under the law cannot be understated. After all, it is the law,” says the letter from two Senate committee ranking members and three House committee chairmen to U.S. special counsel Henry Kerner.
“Accordingly, we request that you immediately investigate all allegations of retaliation against these IRS whistleblowers and all violations related to the IRS’s failure to include the anti-gag provision as required by law,” continues the letter, signed by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee; and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
The letter was also signed by House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; House Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer, R-Ky.; and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith, R-Mo. They asked the Office of Special Counsel for a briefing no later than July 19.
“In addition, we request that you immediately seek the appropriate disciplinary actions against all who engaged in unlawful conduct against these whistleblowers,” the GOP lawmakers said. “The DOJ and IRS must be held accountable for all instances of whistleblower retaliation and misconduct, and federal agencies cannot conceal their wrongdoing behind illegal nondisclosure directives and related documents.”
The Office of Special Counsel is an independent federal agency that serves as an internal government watchdog on matters such as whistleblower protection and preventing election-related activity on federal time or property under the Hatch Act. It’s not to be confused with the title “special counsel” given to independent prosecutors.
Office of Special Counsel spokesman Zachary Kurz told The Daily Signal in an email, “I can confirm receipt of the letter. We are in the process of reviewing it.”
After their initial disclosures in May, the IRS whistleblowers notified members of Congress—as well as the Office of Special Counsel and IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel—that the IRS removed them from the Biden investigation, passed them over for deserved promotions, and removed them from their existing roles.
In late June, the Justice Department reached a favorable plea deal with Hunter Biden, in which he would be convicted of two misdemeanor tax charges, and the government will recommend two years’ probation for lying on a gun-purchase form.
However, whistleblowers said the Justice Department declined to investigate other matters—including evidence that could lead back to Joe Biden.
They also said U.S. Attorney David Weiss of Delaware was turned down when he asked for special counsel status in order to prosecute aspects of the case in the District of Columbia and California—where Biden-appointed prosecutors declined to prosecute.
The IRS did not immediately reply to inquiries for this article.
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