Republican senators have proposed new legislation to make it more serious for people to leak private information about taxpayers. They say that the current legal system doesn't have enough teeth to stop future breaches. A former IRS contractor named Charles Littlejohn recently admitted to getting and sharing highly private information about over a thousand people, including former President Donald Trump. This move comes after Littlejohn's guilty plea.
The bill from Rep. Steve Daines of Montana wants to raise the maximum jail sentence from five years to ten years and the maximum fine from five thousand dollars to ten thousand dollars. In his opinion, the current punishments are not much more than a "slap on the wrist" and add to what he calls "two systems of justice" under the Biden government. It is very important to him that future leaks are stopped and trust in the legal system is restored.
Republican senators announced legislation to double the potential prison sentence for anyone caught leaking sensitive taxpayer information, saying the current law is woefully weak. https://t.co/aWz8UiKrBN
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) November 3, 2023
Many people, including Littlejohn, got illegal access to a lot of taxpayer information and shared it with other people. He is thought to be the one who gave The New York Times Mr. Trump's tax returns and ProPublica tax information from some of the richest people in the country. Republicans have said that the Biden administration is not taking these leaks seriously enough and are calling for stronger consequences to stop people from doing illegal things in the future.
It's important to note, though, that Daines' bill would not apply to cases like Littlejohn's or to people who made statements before it was passed. Littlejohn is going to be sentenced in January, and the court is very angry about his guilty plea. U.S. District Judge Ana Reyes told him he was wrong to think that what he did was okay, stressing that breaking the law on your own causes problems in society. The judge made it clear that the ends do not excuse the means.
Republicans want to send a clear message that leaking private information about taxpayers will have serious effects by introducing this new bill. Some people say that these leaks hurt the legal system and make people less likely to trust their government. By doubling the possible prison term and raising the fines, they hope to stop people from breaking the law again and restore trust in the IRS.