By Paul Sperry for RealClearWire
The Internal Revenue Service recently awarded a lucrative contract to help modernize its computer databases to the same Washington firm, Booz Allen Hamilton, that employed the man who pleaded guilty last week to stealing and leaking thousands of private tax returns of wealthy Americans, including former President Trump, according to records reviewed by RealClearInvestigations.
The massive IRS theft is the third major breach of confidential and classified government information by Booz Allen contractors over the last decade – including Edward Snowden’s 2013 leak exposing the National Security Agency’s worldwide anti-terror surveillance program.
Cyber-thief Charles “Chaz” Littlejohn was working on an IRS contract for Booz Allen in 2018 when he stole more than two decades of Trump’s personal tax records from IRS computers. He later leaked them to the New York Times, which published negative stories on Trump’s long-sought returns several weeks before the 2020 election, which Trump narrowly lost in a handful of battleground states.
After the election, Littlejohn leaked a trove of sensitive IRS data on Elon Musk, Michael Bloomberg and other billionaires – including major conservative donors – to ProPublica. The left-leaning news site used them to write a series, “The Secret IRS Files,” about how the rich use loopholes and tricks to avoid paying taxes. Congressional Democrats cited the series in their push for higher taxes on the wealthy.
Trump lawyer Alina Habba said she suspects Littlejohn was an operative in a broader political conspiracy to sabotage the former president before the 2020 election.
“What Mr. Littlejohn did, I do not believe he did alone,” she said last week at the Washington courthouse where he pleaded guilty. Habba added that the leak probably “cost my client thousands of votes and was all by design.”
A Democrat donor, Littlejohn struck a deal with federal prosecutors in which he copped to a single count of disclosing tax information without authorization. Though facing a maximum of five years, his plea deal calls for an estimated range of eight to 14 months when he is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 29.
“That looked more like a Hunter Biden plea deal,” Habba said. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-Mo.) agreed, saying Littlejohn is getting a “slap on the wrist.”
Booz Allen’s Name Kept Out of Court Papers, Press
The most profitable government contractor in the world, Booz Allen has been connected to a number of high-profile Democrats over the years, including former employee James Clapper, who served as President Obama’s intelligence czar. Clapper was involved in an intelligence community operation just weeks before the 2020 election to suppress information about Biden foreign influence-peddling found on his son’s laptop.
At least two Obama administration alumni sit on Booz Allen’s board. President Clinton’s IRS commissioner also holds a seat. In the 2020 election cycle, federal records show Booz Allen contributed a total of $238,776 to Joe Biden versus $85,657 to Trump. The company also gave almost four times more money to the Democratic National Committee than to the Repubican National Committee.
Federal investigators were closing in on the 38-year-old Littlejohn this summer when the Biden administration decided to rehire his former employer, Booz Allen, through a contract with a ceiling value of $2.6 billion to help overhaul the IRS’ IT operations.
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The massive new IRS contract may explain why the Biden administration won’t identify Littlejohn’s employer by name in court papers and press releases about the case.
The Justice Department would only say that Littlejohn “served as a contractor to Company A, a consulting firm that serviced public and private clients.” The Treasury Department, which oversees the IRS and also investigated Littlejohn, has not identified Booz Allen as the firm, either. Nor have Littlejohn’s lawyers, who declined comment.
The Washington media have gone along with the blackout describing Littlejohn as an “IRS Contractor.” Even as they have reported in some detail on the mechanics of Littlejohn’s thievery – he uploaded data to a private server instead of downloading it to a flash drive which might set off IRS alarms – news outlets never explained the key question of how he had access to the tax returns in the first place: because he was working for Booz Allen.
The New York Times reported that Littlejohn “was working for a company contracted by the IRS. The company that employed the contractor was not named.” The Washington Post described Littlejohn as a “financial consultant” and left it at that. Meanwhile, Politico has published at least three stories on Littlejohn without naming Booz Allen as his employer.
The identity of his former employer is not difficult to find on the internet. A Pew Charitable Trust bulletin dated Feb. 26, 2018 describes Littlejohn as “an associate with Booz Allen Hamilton’s finance and economic development practice.”
In a 2008 blurb Littlejohn wrote for the University of North Carolina alumni newsletter, he stated: “Upon graduating from Carolina in 2007, I went to work for the strategy and technology consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton in their civil finance division. The civil finance team works with the IRS … In my time at Booz Allen, I have had the opportunity to work on a workload transition project at the IRS.”
The dates track with the employment record prosecutors laid out in their charging document: “From 2008 to 2010, from 2012 to 2013, and from 2017 to 2021, Littlejohn served as a contractor to Company A.”
Asked if Booz Allen terminated Littlejohn in 2021, or if he left on his own, company spokeswoman Jessica Klenk said, “We’re not in a position to speak to that at this point.”
The massive IRS breach raises new questions about Booz Allen’s ability to protect sensitive government information.
In 2013, Booz Allen put Edward Snowden to work at the National Security Agency. That May, Snowden left the country with thousands of top-secret documents that he soon leaked to journalists, exposing the agency’s worldwide anti-terror surveillance program. Snowden fled to Russia and in 2022 was granted Russian citizenship by President Vladimir Putin. At the time of the breach, Booz Allen condemned it as “a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm” and vowed to investigate the matter.
But another rogue employee soon put the top Beltway contractor back in the spotlight. In 2016, Booz Allen computer analyst Harold Martin III was arrested for stealing other data from the NSA. To address the fallout, the company hired former FBI Director Robert Mueller to conduct an external review of its security procedures, including how it screens employees. “We are committed to doing our part to detect potential insider threats,” the company stated.
Mueller presented his findings and recommendations around June 2017 – the year before Littlejohn stole thousands of private tax returns. In an interview with RealClearInvestigations, Booz Allen spokeswoman Klenk declined to say what reforms it implemented, if any, to safeguard such information. The McLean, Va.-based company employs more than 20,000 consultants with government security clearances handling some of the nation’s most confidential data.
Despite this track record of breaches, the IRS has trusted Booz Allen to help modernize its computer system. In late June, the IRS awarded the company part of a multibillion-dollar contract to update its databases, which involves consolidating roughly 400 different systems into a new, cloud-based architecture. “Booz Allen is committed to supporting IRS’ modernization and tax administration efforts for years to come,” the company said in a statement touting the awarding of the seven-year contract under the headline, “Applying IT modernization to enhance taxpayer experience.”
The IRS did not respond to requests for comment about Booz Allen. In a press statement following Littlejohn’s arrest, Commissioner Danny Werfel said the agency has “tightened security” in the wake of the leaks. In a separate public statement, a Treasury official added that “the American people have every right to expect the utmost integrity from those who are granted access to sensitive taxpayer information through their employment with the IRS.” Treasury’s inspector general is “still investigating” the case, according to a Department of Justice press release. Prosecutors have not offered a motive for Littlejohn’s crime. If they know why he leaked Trump’s tax information to the media, they’re not saying.
A search of Federal Election Commission records turns up small-dollar donations Littlejohn made to Democrats through ActBlue, a liberal fundraising platform. When he first started working for Booz Allen in 2008, he said he shared the firm’s “social mission” and that it gave him the “flexibility” to pursue “research I started as an undergraduate on agricultural markets in Uganda.”
A Pro-Democrat Family
Littlejohn was raised in an affluent Democrat household in St. Louis. He is the son of retired PR executive Steve Littlejohn and attorney Stefanie London, both of whom are Biden donors, according to the Federal Election Commission database.
His father, who also gave $900 to Barack Obama, has posted a number of anti-Trump tweets. Steve Littlejohn, who began his career in Wilmington, Del., is a fan of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. In 2017, he retweeted the liberal host’s false conspiracy theories about Trump’s “coordination” with the Russians to rig the 2016 election in his favor. The next year, his son stole Trump’s tax filings.
Littlejohn’s mother, who specialized in document retention and intellectual property protection during her law practice, previously clerked for the late federal judge Theodore McMillian, a Jimmy Carter appointee. She is the daughter of famed St. Louis public defense attorney and self-described “social liberal” Norm London. Records show Stefanie London, who started her education at the University of Pennsylvania, also supported the Senate campaign of liberal Democrat Beto O’Rourke.
Court filings reveal Littlejohn didn’t just steal Trump’s tax filings but also those of “entities and individuals” related to him. It’s not clear if the tax returns of Trump’s family members were also leaked. But investigators have the evidence. As part of his plea deal, Littlejohn agreed to forfeit to investigators his interest in about a dozen electronic devices and private web accounts. Investigators found one of the flash drives he used to store the purloined data hidden inside the lining of a wood and leather box that contained “an ornamental camel.”
Biden-appointed U.S. District Judge Ana Reyes invited Trump to deliver a statement at Littlejohn’s sentencing, which she set for Jan. 29. It is not immediately known if Trump will take her up on the offer. But after the New York Times published his tax records just five weeks before the 2020 election – in a story headlined, “Long-concealed records show Trump’s chronic losses and years of tax avoidance” – he railed against what he called the “fake news” media. Now the GOP’s 2024 frontrunner, Trump explained that he was “entitled, like everyone else” to take write-offs against income, such as “depreciation [deductions] and tax credits.”
DOJ has notified only 152 victims of Littlejohn’s crime. Thousands more high-net-worth taxpayers remain in the dark about whether the rogue Booz Allen contractor shared their most private financial data with the media, which still possess the confidential information. DOJ said it is working to identify additional victims, but rather than notifying them, it plans to set up a website where taxpayers can check to see if their tax filings were breached.
Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.
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