Gay Marriage

No, the IRS Didn't Leak Mozilla Ex-CEO's Donation in Opposition to Gay Marriage

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Outrage upon outrage upon outrage, like an infinite number of browser tabs.
Mozilla

Dear conservatives: Please don't make me have to write in defense of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). I certainly don't enjoy it.

As Nick Gillespie has noted, Brendan Eich stepped down yesterday as chief executive officer of Mozilla in the wake of the scandal that he donated $1,000 in support of California's Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that forbid state recognition of same-sex marriage.

The outrage has now completely flipped to the opposite direction, with conservatives accusing those who railed against Mozilla of intolerance. Twitter has remained submerged beneath a sea of outrage and generalizations for the duration.

Two days ago, an anonymous tech industry worker wrote a piece about the outrage against Eich at First Things, a journal produced by nonprofit Institute on Religion and Public Life. The anonymous worker stated that Eich's donation came to light in 2012, "after the Internal Revenue Service leaked a copy of the National Organization for Marriage's 2008 tax return to a gay-advocacy group." This information is now being attached and included in coverage on other conservative blogs as well.

But it's not accurate. The names of donors in the Proposition 8 battle, for and against, have always been public information, even before the election. The Los Angeles Times has a searchable database here. Eich's name is on it (as is mine—I gave $100 in opposition and ultimately regretted it after seeing the horrible, useless ads they put together to fight Prop. 8). The information came from the California secretary of state's office, not some IRS leak. This database is not dated, but they were available and were online at some media outlets prior to the 2008 vote.

The possible IRS leak is a real thing, though. First Things didn't invent it, just misunderstood it. The IRS is accused of leaking the National Organization for Marriage's (NOM) tax records from 2008 to the Human Rights Campaign. The IRS has claimed the release of the records was "inadvertent." The records included names of donors to NOM, but while NOM was responsible for organizing and pushing forward Proposition 8, it's not the same list. Eich donated to Prop. 8, not to NOM. Eich's name and donation to Proposition 8 was always a public record and searchable even before the election. People were facing public criticism for their donations at their workplaces even at the time of the vote. Eich is not the first guy to deal with this sort of backlash, and it prompted debate over whether names of donors should be public.

We can blame a multitude of sins on the IRS and President Barack Obama, but the outrage over Eich is not one of them.

UPDATE: First Things has updated its post and acknowledged the error.