Today, the House passed H.R. 1152, the IRS Email Transparency Act. The bill, authored by U.S. Congressman Kenny Marchant (TX-24), would make it against the law for IRS officers and employees to use personal email accounts for official business.
The IRS Email Transparency Act comes in direct response to evidence that Lois Lerner, the ex-IRS official at the center of the IRS targeting investigation, routinely used a personal email account to transmit confidential taxpayer information.
“I’m honored that the IRS Email Transparency Act passed the House with strong bipartisan support,” said Marchant. “This legislation is one small part of our effort to clean up the IRS, but it takes big steps to safeguard taxpayer information and prevent IRS abuse of honest Americans from ever happening again.”
Prior to the passage of the IRS Email Transparency Act, Marchant spoke on the House floor in support of the bill. The video recording and transcript of his remarks can be found below.
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you for your leadership in helping advance the IRS Email Transparency Act.
“Mr. Speaker, we have an important responsibility in Congress to protect American taxpayers. That’s what our constituents sent us here to do.
“I believe we have the opportunity to do that today. By moving forward this bill, we put safeguards in place for taxpayers and bring greater transparency and accountability to the IRS.
“H.R. 1152 is a clear, straightforward bill that will prohibit IRS officers and employees from using personal email accounts for official IRS business. A very common sense thing.
“This bill came as a result of the Ways and Means Committee’s investigation into the IRS targeting of taxpayers based on their political beliefs. Many of those wrongly targeted were in my district in Texas.
“But the underlying issue of H.R. 1152 is about finding ways to fix the problem and ensure such abuses never happen again. This is something that will impact all Americans.
“One of the abuses the Committee discovered in our investigation was that some IRS employees used their personal, non-secure email to conduct official IRS business. In doing so, they also disclosed confidential taxpayer information.
“Lois Lerner, a former IRS official at the center of the agency’s targeting scandal, routinely conducted official business involving taxpayer information on her personal email account. If that’s not bad enough, nothing on her personal email is subject to official recordkeeping, which conveniently keeps taxpayer information outside the orbit of proper security.
“Such reckless behavior by the IRS breaches the trust between the American people and their government.
“This is wrong in principle and has failed in practice.
“Currently, the IRS employee manual only says that ‘sensitive but unclassified’ data can’t be emailed outside the IRS network. But it says nothing about an outright prohibition. In other words: it’s bad practice, but it’s not prohibited. And it clearly didn’t stop Lois Lerner from betraying the confidence of the American taxpayer.
“This bill makes it against the law for IRS employees to share confidential tax information on their personal email account.
“As I said at the outset, Congress has a responsibility to protect taxpayers. Just avoiding a repeat of past failures cannot be our ambition.
“So let’s put commonsense safeguards in place, shine the light of transparency on the IRS, and provide greater accountability to the American people.
“The IRS Email Transparency Act does just that.
“Mr. Speaker, I yield back.”