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OPINION

IRS Whistleblower Playing It By The Book

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, recently spoke to Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business about an IRS Supervisory Special Agent (SSA) who has come forward seeking whistleblower protections. This currently unnamed whistleblower (here’s your first clue as to this person’s genuine character) is seeking to bring information before congressional leaders that allegedly documents illegalities perpetrated by Hunter Biden and a cover up by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.

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Norquist said, “we really should have a lot of respect for this IRS agent who’s playing it by the book.”

But, what does it mean to “play it by the book?” Lately, we’ve seen a new crop of whistleblowers arise out of the corruption and weaponization of the FBI. Is a whistleblower obligated to abide by certain procedures? Or, can a would-be whistleblower safely disregard statutory provisions and still hope to benefit from statutory protections that pertain to whistleblower status? 

Whistleblowers are governed by 5 U.S. Code, Section 2303. This title was amended and whistleblower protections were enhanced in 2012 when President Barack Obama signed the Federal Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act into law. 

In short, anyone can seek the protections of 5 U.S. Code, Section 2303. However, qualifying under the protections enumerated in the federal statute is far from automatic. The scope of protections afforded to would be whistleblowers depends, broadly, on two factors:

Are you a member of the intelligence community, and to whom do you seek to make disclosures? 

An employee of an agency which is a member of the intelligence community (which includes the FBI) is strictly regulated as to how and to whom disclosures can be made. In essence, disclosures have to be made to The Office of Inspector General and/or to several other federal entities. 

Leaking information to a podcaster and clowning as a “Media Personality” is not on that list.

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Disclosing information to non-authorized persons or entities can strip the whistleblower of protected status. The whistleblower may choose to make non-protected disclosures, but certain consequences — to include termination and/or criminal prosecution — may follow. 

In addition, 5 U.S. Code, Section 2303 does not prohibit a federal agency from creating or enforcing non-disclosure agreements. If whistleblower information is classified, disclosures are even more strictly governed, and can only be communicated by means specifically authorized to communicate classified information. 

Congress may be informed by whistleblowers, 5 U.S. Code, Section 2303 being governed by Section 7211. 

It may be just a matter of semantics, but it doesn’t seem logical to refer to someone as a whistleblower who’s been stripped of their protections due to their refusal to abide by the statutory requirements for disclosure. 

The IRS is not a member of the intelligence community, and is a component of the U.S. Treasury Department. The standards for reporting information (but not including identifying tax information) which is reasonably believed to be evidence of a violation of any law, rule or regulation, gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, is dramatically reduced. 

Generally, whistleblowers may make disclosures to whomever they wish as long as the foregoing reasonable belief is satisfied. Non-disclosure agreements and other provisions of law may apply.

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The IRS SSA would be well within his rights to speak to the press and reveal his identity, but in a demonstration of professionalism and character, he has chosen to apply a stricter, intelligence community standard to his conduct.  

Doubtless, he’s been well represented by Mark Lytle, who is no doubt fully aware that improperly disclosing tax information is a felony. However, as Lytle told Fox News, his client isn’t “a social media person, he is not coming here with a political agenda.”

And, out of an abundance of caution, Lytle’s client has not shared tax information even with him. Hunter Biden’s Attorney has already threatened Lytle’s client by accusing him of perpetrating a felony by bringing Hunter’s illegal activity to Congress’ attention. 

Whistleblower status is not an invitation to the main ring of the media big top. It’s not a call to slip on a red foam nose and gimbal for social media followers. Nor is it a tonic for a failing career. 

Playing it by the book would serve many whistleblowers well. As Norquist stated of the IRS agent — “He didn’t give it to his favorite journalist. He’s not leaking it. He’s taking it to the Congress.” 

Those who decide not to play it by the book besmirch those who are sincerely seeking to serve the American people. Whistleblowers take serious risks, both personally and professionally. The best of them you’ve probably never heard of. 

The worst categorically malign their coworkers, frenetically build social media platforms, and ceaselessly blather sensational narratives about the total destruction of the agencies from which they happily drew paychecks. 

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Some battle for months to keep those paychecks issued from an agency they characterized as diabolical and now militate for its abolition — which begs the question…what’s the real motive? 

If the IRS SSA continues to play it by the book, we can only hope congressional leaders will do their jobs and bring Hunter Biden to account for his disgusting, illegal behavior. The media can only make noise. Congress must act. But, Hillary Clinton has yet to be outfitted for an orange jumpsuit. Justice is a rare commodity these days. As Rush Limbaugh was fond of saying, “It’s never time to give up on America.” 

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