On Monday, a federal judge ruled that the IRS’s targeting of the email account of the former chairwoman of the House Ways and Means Committee could be used against her and her family in an upcoming lawsuit.
The ruling came on the same day that President Donald Trump’s White House announced that Kastens emails had been “improperly withheld” and that the Internal Revenue Service was investigating them for tax evasion.
Kastes lawyers argued that the emails could be considered an attempt to retaliate against her.
The judge, however, ruled that “the IRS had not violated Kastensen’s constitutional rights” by targeting the email accounts.
“The IRS has a duty to protect the privacy of all its employees, and it is thus appropriate for Congress to require the IRS to comply with its obligation to preserve the public’s confidence in its IRS’s integrity,” the judge wrote.
“It is also important to note that no individual employee is immune from IRS scrutiny.
In the past, the IRS has relied on the Fifth Amendment to avoid compelled testimony and compelled production of documents.
Today, it is an exercise of the same power.
The IRS has not yet provided an explanation for the improper targeting of Kastenberg and her email account.”
Kastenburg’s email account was used by staffers to communicate with congressional staffers during congressional hearings and to coordinate their activities, including meetings with members of Congress and others.
In an interview with ABC News, Kastenson said she was “very, very concerned” about the IRS targeting.
“I’m a very, very strong believer that we need to hold everyone accountable,” she said.
“But if this case is not resolved by a court of law, then the public has lost trust in the IRS.
We need to get the facts out there.”
Kosten, who was elected to Congress in 2010 and became the first woman to serve on the Ways and Ministries panel in the House, said she’s been inundated with emails about the lawsuit, but she said she hasn’t received any specific threats.
“All I can say is that my email was completely safe,” Kastening said.
She said she has been “very grateful” for the “huge outpouring of support” she’s received on social media and on Capitol Hill.
“This is a good opportunity to have a dialogue about how we can move forward,” she added.
The email account’s existence was revealed during the course of the IRS investigation into the emails of Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the former chairman of the Ways & Means Committee. “
So many people are doing everything they can to find out more about the story.”
The email account’s existence was revealed during the course of the IRS investigation into the emails of Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the former chairman of the Ways & Means Committee.
In a December 2015 interview with the AP, Camp said he had been directed by the IRS “to go through all my emails to determine what I may have done wrong.”
“It’s just a little bit disturbing to think that the [IRS] might be trying to intimidate someone who is a political opponent,” he said.
Camp resigned from Congress after the email probe was launched.
“Now I have nothing to hide, but the IRS is going to go after anyone, including my family, because they know who I am,” he told ABC News.
“They don’t care who I voted for.
They don’t know who my kids are.”
Camp said the IRS did not respond to requests for comment from ABC News but said in a statement that the agency “does not engage in retaliation or intimidation.”
The judge ruled against Kastsch’s and Camps lawsuits.
“Based on this record of events, the Government’s case in the current litigation appears to be without merit,” Judge James R. Bennett wrote in his ruling.
“Despite the Government asserting that it has no reasonable expectation of privacy in its employees’ emails, the record shows that the Government did not stop the unauthorized disclosure of the emails,” Bennett wrote.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.