Hunter Biden, the president’s son, sued the Internal Revenue Service on Monday, claiming that two agents wrongly shared his confidential tax information while sharing concerns about the handling of the investigation into his taxes and his business dealings.
In the 27-page lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., Biden’s attorney said a pair of IRS agents — Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler — disclosed his personal information in more than 20 media interviews and public statements.
“IRS agents have targeted and sought to embarrass Mr. Biden via public statements to the media in which they and their representatives disclosed confidential information about a private citizen’s tax matters,” Biden attorney Abbe Lowell wrote in the complaint filed Monday. He added that Biden “has no fewer or lesser rights than any other American citizen, and no government agency or government agent has free reign to violate his rights simply because of who he is.”
Shapley, a supervisory special agent for the IRS, and Ziegler have accused authorities of giving Biden special treatment in its long-running investigation of the president’s son. Testifying before a House committee in July, Shapley accused the Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office of having “slow-walked steps” in the investigation, including seeking search warrants and conducting interviews.
In the complaint filed Monday, Lowell wrote that the lawsuit was not about the legitimacy of the investigation or about the whistleblower process.
“Rather, the lawsuit is about the decision by IRS employees, their representatives, and others to disregard their obligations and repeatedly and intentionally publicly disclose and disseminate Mr. Biden’s protected tax return information outside the exceptions for making disclosures in the law,” Lowell wrote.
Biden asked a judge to order the IRS to create and implement a data security plan to avoid similar disclosures and to award him $1,000 in damages for each time his confidential tax return information was disclosed, among other things.
The lawsuit comes days after U.S. Attorney David Weiss filed federal firearm charges against Biden related to a revolver that he got in 2018. Authorities said Biden lied when he claimed on a form that he “was not an unlawful user of, and addicted to, any stimulant, narcotic drug, ands any other controlled substance.” At the time, Biden was regularly abusing crack cocaine, according to The Washington Post.
Weiss was made special counsel last month as part of his yearslong investigation into Biden.
The president’s son was earlier expected to plead guilty to misdemeanor tax charges as part of a deal with prosecutors that fell apart after a judge rejected it. As part of the deal, Biden would have admitted to the facts of a federal firearm charge and entered a pretrial diversion agreement.
Republicans criticized the agreement between Biden and prosecutors, calling it a “sweetheart deal,” The Associated Press reported.