Most news watchers are familiar with the Friday afternoon document dumps, but the IRS seems to have gone one step further. Buried in a letter on another topic they revealed that two years worth of Lois Lerner’s emails are gone, conveniently erasing any record of contacts she might have had with the White House, FEC or Democrats on Capitol Hill during the timeframe when the IRS was improperly targeting conservative groups for scrutiny.
House Committee on Ways and Means chairman Dave Camp revealed today that he has been informed by the IRS that Lois Lerner’s emails between Jan. 2009 and April 2011 have been lost “due to a supposed computer crash.” The IRS says the crash destroyed all of Lerner’s emails to outside agencies such as, for instance, the White House. Emails sent within the IRS are unaffected.
Camp said of the revelation, “The fact that I am just learning about this, over a year into the investigation, is completely unacceptable and now calls into question the credibility of the IRS’s response to Congressional inquiries. There needs to be an immediate investigation and forensic audit by Department of Justice as well as the Inspector General.”
Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany questioned the timing of the news, “In the course of the Committee’s investigation, the Administration repeatedly claimed we were getting access to all relevant IRS documents. Only now – thirteen months into the investigation – the IRS reveals that key emails from the time of the targeting have been lost. And they bury that fact deep in an unrelated letter on a Friday afternoon. In that same letter, they urge Congress to end the investigations into IRS wrongdoing. This is not the transparency promised to the American people. If there is no smidgeon of corruption what is the Administration hiding?”
Boustany is referring to an interview President Obama gave to Bill O’Reilly prior to the Superbowl in which the President claimed there was not even “a smidgen” of corruption at the IRS. According to the IG report issued last year, the IRS did improperly target conservative groups beginning in early 2010 and held up 501(c)(4) applications for the groups in question until May of 2012.
Lerner, who ran the IRS’ exempt organizations division, asserted her 5th amendment right not to testify about the situation last year. The House committee decided she had effectively waived her right by giving a statement proclaiming her innocence and, after she once again refused to testify, voted in May to hold her in contempt. Lerner retired from her position at the IRS last year.