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Watchdog obtains IRS-FEC email exchange

A conservative watchdog group, Judicial Watch, said it obtained an email chain from the Internal Revenue Service in which the department provided confidential tax information to the Federal Election Commission.
 
The watchdog group obtained the exchange from a Freedom of Information Act request made shortly after congressional investigators began prodding the agency on whether it inappropriately shared confidential tax information about a conservative group applying for tax-exempt status. 
 
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Lois Lerner, then-IRS director of Exempt Organizations, who was quoted in the emails, has since retired. 
 
Judicial Watch said the IRS sent the FEC annual tax returns, request forms for tax-exempt status and articles of organization. The watchdog received the information from the FEC. It said the IRS had not yet complied with its request for information.
 
Sharing taxpayer returns would violate federal law. 
 
The House Ways and Means subcommittee on Oversight released a portion of the email exchange in July questioning whether the IRS had shared confidential information. Congressional investigators had since requested more information. The exchange between Lerner and the FEC dates back to 2009.
 
“These extensive emails and other materials provide a disturbing window into the activities of two out-of-control federal agencies: the IRS and FEC,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement accompanying the release. “And there is the very real question as to whether these documents evidence a crime.”
 
Lerner, the IRS official who first revealed the agency had targeted some Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny, resigned in November. She had been on administrative leave since the scandal broke. 
 
The scandal has largely faded from public view as the government shutdown and the implementation of ObamaCare have dominated attention. 
 
The IRS did not immediately return a request for comment. 
 
After congressional investigators publicly released portions of the email exchange earlier this year, the IRS said it takes its obligation to protect taxpayer information seriously and said it would review the matter. It noted at the time that the FEC was only looking for publicly available information.