A senior Obama administration official has told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that several other IRS officials have had “computer problems” over the last few years, including some who were close to former IRS employee Lois Lerner.
The committee released a partial transcript of an interview it conducted last week with IRS Deputy Associate Chief Counsel Tom Kane, who reported the computer problems. When asked how many others might be having this problem, Kane said it was “less than 20.”
Among that number are a few who worked closely at the IRS division dealing with tax-exempt organizations, which Lerner headed. Lerner has since become the prime target of Republican investigators, although the GOP has been hindered by the supposed loss of her emails.
According to the committee, another IRS official who suffered computer problems is Justin Lowe, a technical adviser to the commissioner of Tax-Exempt and Government Entities.
Another is David Fish, an adviser to Lois Lerner. Andy Megosh was also named; he is a manager of Exempt Organizations Guidance.
Kane also noted that the computer of Kimberly Kitchens, an IRS agent in Cincinnati who donated to President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, also crashed. Lerner originally blamed low-level officials in Cincinnati for the targeting scandal.
The committee said the rash of computer crashes could make it difficult for affected officials to comply with House requests for information as it investigates the IRS targeting scandal. It’s also likely to fuel speculation that the IRS is trying to cover its tracks as the House pushes forward with its investigation.
The committee also heard testimony from Kane suggesting that Lerner’s emails may still be recoverable. The IRS told Congress in June that the a backup of Lerner’s hard drive no longer exists, as it was recycled.
But Kane told the committee, “There is an issue as to whether or not there is a… that all of the backup recovery tapes were destroyed.” Kane said this is still “being looked at.”
Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said that makes him more suspicious that the IRS is hiding information, since the IRS didn’t allow Kane to testify last month.
“Finding out that IRS Commissioner Koskinen jumped the gun in reporting to Congress that the IRS ‘confirmed’ all back-up tapes had been destroyed makes me even more suspicious of why he waited months to inform Congress about lost Lois Lerner emails,” Issa said. “Commissioner Koskinen has repeatedly blamed the reporting delay on an effort to be sure what he said was correct, we now know that wasn’t the case.”