Hey, our Democrat School Board Chairman is in the news...
Lawsuit prompts probe of Gibson
By ANDREI BLAKELY
Journal staff writer
Fairfax County School Board Chairman Stuart D. Gibson, Hunter Mill District, is under investigation for his role in the release of tax records filed as part of an Internal Revenue Service lawsuit against the accounting firm KPMG LLP.
Gibson, a senior trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, confirmed Tuesday the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility was investigating the case, but he would not comment on any specifics.
``I'm confident that when the investigation is completed, I will be absolved of all wrongdoing," Gibson said Tuesday.
The conservative Landmark Legal Foundation and the Fairfax County Republican Committee say Gibson and his Justice Department staff allowed the release of private citizens' tax records. They also claim the action was politically motivated.
The IRS's uncharacteristic release of names was reported in a Wall Street Journal article July 12. Among those whose tax records were released were several prominent individuals, including California Republican gubernatorial candidate William E. Simon Jr.; Gary Winnick, chairman of Global Crossing; Earl Phillips Jr., ambassador to Barbados and a large Republican campaign contributor; and late NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt.
The Office of Professional Responsibility would neither confirm nor deny the investigation, said Dana Perino, a Justice Department spokeswoman.
``Stuart Gibson has served in the Department of Justice for 18 years under six attorneys general, and he continues to serve with the full confidence of the Department of Justice," Perino said.
The release of the tax records, according to Landmark officials, violates an IRS code that says taxpayer identities should remain confidential unless the proper authorization is given.
The information was released in papers filed during a court fight with KPMG. The IRS alleges the accounting giant used questionable tax shelters to inappropriately reduce the tax burdens of some clients.
Landmark referred the case to the Office of Professional Responsibility on July 23. It asked for an investigation into the entire case in which it says Gibson is the lead attorney.
``We want an investigation into why it happened," said Mark Levin, Landmark's president. ``This to me is the greatest violation of taxpayer privacy since at least the Nixon administration."
The Fairfax County Republican Committee also is calling for an investigation. The Republican Committee's complaint, the group said, is not related to Landmark's complaint.
Eddie Page, chairman of the Fairfax County Republican Committee, said Republicans are calling for an investigation solely based on the information contained in the Wall Street Journal article and an editorial, ``The IRS Out of Control," published on July 17.
``I just don't think it's right to disclose information from the IRS to the public," he said.
According to the Wall Street Journal article, written by Glenn R. Simpson and John D. McKinnon, the IRS generally is reluctant to release information about taxpayers who have not been accused of a crime.
In the past, Fairfax County Republicans have criticized Gibson for close affiliations with Democrats in the county. Former county GOP President Joe Underwood has said Gibson is under investigation for violating the Hatch Act.
Page said the decision to ask for a formal probe of Gibson was made by Fairfax Republicans and not by national party officials. However, he has sent letters to each of Northern Virginia's three congressmen asking them to request a Justice Department investigation as well.