The IRS has told Congress that it lost more than two years’ worth of emails involving former IRS official Lois Lerner, due to a computer crash.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) on Friday said it was “unacceptable” that he was just learning of this problem now, after a lengthy investigation into Lerner’s involvement in the IRS targeting scandal.
“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,” he said. “There needs to be an immediate investigation and forensic audit by Department of Justice as well as the Inspector General.”
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) indicated that he doesn’t believe the IRS is telling the truth.
“Do they really expect the American people to believe that, after having withheld these emails for a year, they’re just now realizing the most critical time period is missing?”
“The supposed loss of Lerner’s emails further blows a hole in the credibility of claims that the IRS is complying with congressional requests and their repeated assurances that they’re working to get to the truth,” he said. “If there wasn’t nefarious conduct that went much higher than Lois Lerner in the IRS targeting scandal, why are they playing these games?”
According to Camp, the IRS is saying it has Lerner’s emails that were to and from other IRS employees from early 2009 to April 2011. But the IRS says it can’t find emails between Lerner and anyone outside the IRS in that timeframe.
Camp said the news makes it all too easy for the IRS to claim that Lerner acted alone in directing IRS officials to apply extra scrutiny to conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. Republicans say those actions appeared to be aimed at helping President Barack Obama’s re-election chances, and have been investigating the IRS since the initiative was revealed.
“Just a short time ago, Commissioner [John] Koskinen promised to produce all Lerner documents,” Camp said. “It appears now that was an empty promise.
“Frankly, these are the critical years of the targeting of conservative groups that could explain who knew what when, and what, if any, coordination there was between agencies. Instead, because of this loss of documents, we are conveniently left to believe that Lois Lerner acted alone.”
Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) responded to the news by asking the National Security Agency to turn over all the metadata it has collected on Lerner, in an effort to help find out more about who Lerner contacted.
“I have asked NSA Director Rogers to send me all metadata his agency has collected on Lois Lerner’s email accounts for the period which the House sought records,” said Stockman. “The metadata will establish who Lerner contacted and when, which helps investigators determine the extent of illegal activity by the IRS.”
Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) said the IRS told the committee the news in an unrelated letter, and that the same letter asked Congress to end its investigations into the IRS.
“This is not the transparency promised to the American people,” Boustany said. “If there is no smidgeon of corruption what is the administration hiding?”