New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has reportedly been investigating 501(c)(4) organizations that have been involved in political activities. According to the New York Times, his office has sent letters to nearly two dozen groups seeking information about their activities. The exact aim of this investigation is not clear, but commentators have suggested that it is an attempt to learn more about whether the groups have engaged in excessive political activity and whether the donors should be disclosed.
Now, the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and the ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee—the Congressional Committees responsible for the Tax Code and overseeing the IRS—have written to Attorney General Schneiderman. They raise concerns about whether he is requesting information that should only be obtained from the IRS. Indeed, they “emphasize strongly that willful unauthorized disclosure of returns or return information is a federal crime.”
It would be surprising if this letter halts the investigations, but the prospect of a turf war may complicate things. At a minimum, it shows that for all the praise the Attorney General is receiving for his efforts, there are others who are concerned about whether he is overstepping his authority or obtaining information contrary to the procedures Congress has put in place.