In all of this past week’s flurry IRS news: Lois Lerner and other IRS’ officials hard drives crashing, emails showing Lerner targeted Sen. Chuck Grassley, and the IRS Commissioner telling Congress they’ve done nothing wrong — some news got lost in the shuffle.

The IRS did do something very wrong, admitted it and paid a significant fine to resolve it.

Two years after activists for same-sex marriage obtained the confidential tax return and donor list of a national group opposed to redefining marriage, the Internal Revenue Service has admitted wrongdoing and agreed to settle the resulting lawsuit.

The Daily Signal has learned that, under a consent judgment today, the IRS agreed to pay $50,000 in damages to the National Organization for Marriage as a result of the unlawful release of the confidential information to a gay rights group, the Human Rights Campaign, that is NOM’s chief political rival.

“Congress made the disclosure of confidential tax return information a serious matter for a reason,” NOM Chairman John D. Eastman told The Daily Signal. “We’re delighted that the IRS has now been held accountable for the illegal disclosure of our list of major donors from our tax return.”

This admission by the IRS goes back to the vicious fight over the Prop 8 vote in California where HRC and its allies resorted to releasing donation information of individuals and harassing those traditional marriage supporters at their homes and businesses.

In February 2012, the Human Rights Campaign posted on its web site NOM’s 2008 tax return and the names and contact information of the marriage group’s major donors, including soon-to-be Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. That information then was published by the Huffington Post and other liberal-leaning news sites.

HRC’s president at the time, Joe Solmonese, was tapped that same month as a national co-chairman of President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.

Eastman said an investigation in the civil lawsuit determined that someone gave NOM’s tax return and list of major donors to Boston-based gay rights activist Matthew Meisel. Email correspondence from Meisel revealed that he told a colleague of “a conduit” to obtain the marriage group’s confidential information.

No matter what one’s stance is on same-sex marriage, everyone should be appalled at the blatant disregard of privacy protection and free speech rights shown in this case by the IRS and gay rights groups.

As a long-time vocal critic of the radical left-wing politics the Human Rights Campaign endorses in the name of gay and lesbian Americans, I am not surprised that HRC is knee-deep in Nixonian tactics of the Obama IRS. It is a shame that those who claim to have the high ground in “the new civil rights” movement don’t respect the basic privacy and free speech freedoms of all Americans.