President Donald Trump believes the Church of Scientology should have its tax exemption revoked, a longtime family aide and current top official at the Department of Housing and Urban Development told an actress and producer in May.
In an unsolicited Twitter message, Lynne Patton, who has worked for the Trump family since 2009, told actress Leah Remini of Trump’s position and said she would interface with the IRS directly to seek more information in an effort to initiate revocation. Remini sent HuffPost copies of Patton’s messages and has declined to comment further.
It’s not clear if Patton ever communicated with the IRS. But if Trump did express an opinion on the church and Patton did contact the IRS about it, as her message suggests, that would be a highly inappropriate level of interference with the IRS by the administration, one expert said.
“For the White House or any administration official to try and influence who the IRS targets, for whatever reason, is wrong and could result in a violation of the law,” said Larry Noble, the former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission who is now a senior director of ethics and general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center. “The IRS must make these decisions independently without any influence by the White House or administration officials.”