United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, today pressed U.S. Secretary of Treasury Janet Yellen—for the third time in the last year—for an update on the promised investigation into the ProPublica leak of confidential taxpayer information that occurred over a year ago.
Hagerty’s last two demands for transparency from Yellen and the Department of Treasury in September and November were met with evasive responses promising a vaguely-described investigation.
Under questioning from Hagerty today, Yellen again declined to be transparent. “I regret that I’m not able to [update you]. There are investigations that are ongoing by law enforcement agencies and also by the inspector generals. […] I have not seen any information on what is being found, and I am eager to see it just as you are,” Yellen said.
Hagerty stressed to Yellen the American people’s mistrust of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that has been created by the leak and lack of answers from the agency and implored her to quickly attain results for concerned taxpayers and the Committee. Hagerty also questioned if she had a strategy to prevent these unacceptable leaks in the future, to which Yellen provided no assurances that serious efforts are being made to ensure confidential taxpayer information is not at risk of being leaked again.
“We’ve asked our own inspector general to make sure that the controls that exist wherever that information is available are appropriate and working. And he’s reported that he’s looked into it and that that’s not an issue; that the controls are adequate and are working,” Yellen said.
“The controls have obviously failed in the past because the leaks have occurred. However they occurred, I hope we’ll get to the bottom of it. And I hope whoever did it will be made an extreme example of so that this never happens again,” Hagerty replied.