IRS sent confidential info on conservatives to liberal nonprofit ProPublica

Patrick Howley Political Reporter
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The division of the Internal Revenue Service that improperly scrutinized the tax-exempt status of conservative groups sent confidential information on 31 conservative groups to the well-funded liberal nonprofit journalism organization ProPublica, according to a revelation made by ProPublica Monday.

“The same IRS office that deliberately targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status in the run-up to the 2012 election released nine pending confidential applications of conservative groups to ProPublica late last year,” according to the ProPublica report.

“In response to a request for the applications for 67 different nonprofits last November, the Cincinnati office of the IRS sent ProPublica applications or documentation for 31 groups. Nine of those applications had not yet been approved — meaning they were not supposed to be made public. (We made six of those public, after redacting their financial information, deeming that they were newsworthy.),” according to ProPublica.

“Before the 2012 election, ProPublica devoted months to showing how dozens of social-welfare nonprofits had misled the IRS about their political activity on their applications and tax returns. … In 2012, nonprofits that didn’t have to report their donors poured an unprecedented $322 million into the election. Much of that money — 84 percent — came from conservative groups,” according to ProPublica.

ProPublica, based in New York City, was launched in 2007 with the financial backing of the Sandler Foundation and other foundations.

The Sandler Foundation was founded with support from former World Savings Bank CEO Herb Sandler and his late wife, Marion Sandler. The Sandlers established themselves as top donors to progressive movement causes and institutions, including the Center for American Progress, founded by former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta, and the Center for Responsible Lending.

In 2011, it was reported that ProPublica had amassed 2,600 non-Sandler donors that contributed more than $5 million of the group’s $10 million budget, with the Sandler Foundation providing the other approximately $5 million. DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, who gave $2 million in seed money to the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA during the 2012 election, was reportedly a ProPublica donor.

Despite a massive endowment provided by progressive movement titans, the website for the liberal nonprofit group attracted an average of only 348,000 unique visitors per month in 2011, making it unclear why the IRS would leak the info to that outlet.

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