IRS “Loses” Emails in the Midst of Congressional Investigation into Targeting of Conservatives
July 14, 2014
Last year, Congress opened an investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) approval process for tax-exempt organizations ahead of the 2012 election. Following several Congressional hearings across multiple committees, it came to light late last month that officials inside the IRS had been slow walking conservative organization’s applications in hopes of keeping them on the sidelines ahead of the pivotal presidential election. Throughout the hearings, senior IRS officials refused to testify, or admit any wrongdoing. This later led to a transition in many leadership positions at the tax collection agency. No one person has been held legally accountable for the discriminatory practices of the agency because we have yet to learn just how far the campaign to stifle conservative political organizations had spread. Was it directed by rogue officials, the IRS Commissioner’s office, or even out of the White House itself?
According to the IRS we may never know who said what and when thanks to a convenient “crash” of several key individual’s computers. The IRS has now said the former IRS official at the center of the storm – Lois Lerner, as well as six other employee’s computers crashed in 2011, deleting their archived emails. Agency policy at the time did not require it to back up all employees’ emails. The IRS has been able to recover about 24,000 pieces of Lerner-related correspondence between January 2009 and April 2011 by searching the emails of other IRS employees where Lerner was on the email chains, according to the agency.
The reaction on Capitol Hill was swift. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) has called for a special investigator to probe the matter. House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) has since subpoenaed Koskinen to testify before his Committee. Others in Congress have now called for a special prosecutor to examine the mess.
Just when we thought it couldn’t get worse for the solemn pledge of transparency by President Barack Obama and his Administration, the Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board published further damning evidence:
“There's an equally disturbing IRS confession contained in its Friday letter to Congress. Some history: House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa as early as June 4, 2013 asked the IRS to provide ‘all documents and communications sent by, received by, or copied to Lois Lerner" between Jan. 1, 2009 and the present.’ Note the ‘all.’
‘Yet in its letter on Friday the IRS slipped in the following: "In early 2014, Chairmen Camp and Issa reiterated their requests for all of Lois Lerner's email, regardless of subject matter . . . Fulfilling the request," said the IRS, meant it had to compile Lerner emails that went beyond the ‘search terms’ it had ‘originally loaded for review.’ By mid-March, the agency admitted, it had produced for Congress only the Lerner emails that it—the IRS—considered "related" to the scandal.
“In other words, the IRS has from the start been picking and choosing which of Ms. Lerner's emails it deigned to show Congress. And it did so despite knowing that Congress wanted everything.”
This on its own is unacceptable – a federal government agency seeking to limit the oversight of Congress and by default, the American people. But taken in whole it starts to look much like the unraveling of an unsuccessful cover-up. The American people deserve answers from an Agency that has at the least allowed bureaucrats to stifle the speech of ordinary citizens, and at the worst has orchestrated a massive cover-up of something much more sinister. Congress is right to examine the many questions surrounding this issue, and a special prosecutor is the next logical step to restore accountability to this agency.