People who are not distraught about Lois Lerner and the IRS must have never actually dealt with the organization. As someone who has for 36 years, it is clear that at best we are dealing with fabrications and at worst outright lies and criminal actions. The fact that any American --let alone the national press, Congressional Democrats, and the White House – might not be agitated is dangerous for our society.
First, let us be clear: despite billions of dollars of taxpayer money being spent on improving their computer system, it is still rank. Second, the Internal Revenue has gradually over my career asserted more and more control at higher levels leaving agents and revenue officers less flexibility. That means there is less opportunity for an agent in the field to make their own decisions about any matter.
If you ever sat in an IRS office or waited endlessly on the telephone, you would know that this entire scenario of lost emails is not remotely plausible. First, when you sit in their office across the desk from an agent, you clearly see that they have one operating system. Just like any large operation, their computers are hooked up to a server which the agent does not control. I cannot tell you how many times over the years (and recently) I have been on hold for over a half hour, only to be told by the live person who finally arrives on the line that their system is down and I should call back in a couple hours or the next day. The IRS does not seem to me to be someplace where an individual’s computer would crash and lose all of their emails. What about other work product that would have been lost; why has that not been discussed?
Interestingly, Ms. Lerner was not the only person who mysteriously crashed her hard drive and supposedly lost a portion of her email history. There are seven people in total – all of which had something to do with the Exempt Organizations Division which is at the heart of the scandal. It is unclear from the information that was released by the IRS of the location of one of these seven, but at least three were in the Cincinnati office and three were bigwigs in D.C., including Lerner. That opens up the question of whether these seven (who all were involved in Exempt Organizations and supposedly had computer crashes) were the only ones in the IRS who had these supposed crashes or were there others? If so, how many? It makes even the least skeptical mind wonder how just these seven in this division lost their hard drives.
One of these people, Nicole Flax, who later became the chief of staff for the IRS Commissioner, was apparently intimately involved with Lerner’s effort when Flax worked for Lerner. In a two year period Flax made 31 visits to the White House. As a reminder previously IRS personnel rarely visited the White House to avoid the appearance of being coerced.
Then there is the question about the outside service provider, email-archiving Sonasoft. Their contract was canceled after six years directly after the hard-drive crash. Why was the contract cancelled? What happened to their archived files? What company replaced them? How could they have archived files if they were not on a centralized system? Also, weeks after Lerner’s computer crash, the IRS prematurely retired data storage devices in the IT offices in Maryland. Why did they retire these devices and what happened to the data on them?
As I have stated before, one would think a potential scandal like this would scare the wits out of the national press and members of Congress of any party. If you don’t believe there is anything to the Exempt Organizations matter, let us give you a momentary pass. But it is clear that someone (most likely Lerner) provided IRS information to at least the Justice Department and a private entity. I have asked multiple IRS employees if they could imagine doing such a thing to which they replied absolutely not. But to the national press and the Democrats in the Congress, this appears not to be a major concern.
This is not a partisan issue. Let me please repeat that. This is not a partisan issue. Anytime the IRS uses its power to improperly chastise citizens or release their information to third parties, ALL of us should be outraged. But the Left is stupidly acting partisan. The public editor of the New York Times, Margaret Sullivan, recently wrote “One side sees a Nixonian abuse of power and cover-up; the other side sees an effort to smear the White House for electoral gain in the midterms. That stuff brings out passions.” Really, Ms. Sullivan, is that the best you can do? What would you do if a Republican Administration, given license by your docile reaction to this matter, went after your newspaper? Where is your outrage? Judy Woodruff, a real professional journalist and co-host of the NewsHour on PBS, was a panelist recently on Fox News Sunday. The topic of the lost emails was being discussed and, when the conversation turned to her, she started by stating they had not covered the issue so she was not well-versed on the subject. Shame on you and your network, Ms. Woodruff. But that can be said for most of the press.
This is a real scandal of enormous proportions. There appears to be a cover-up, evidenced by Ms. Lerner’s invoking of her Fifth Amendment rights to non-incrimination and the nonsensical loss of computer information which was reported to Congress four months after it supposedly came to light. I don’t care about the history of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen and his supposed integrity. He currently is acting as a political hack and is part of the problem, not part of the solution. The rest of the hardworking employees at the IRS who do the right thing every day are being tarnished by these people who participated in this political use of the IRS, orchestrated by Lerner and whoever worked with her. The IRS has enough problems keeping a decent image; they don’t need these political actors destroying the creditability of their organization.
It is high time the Democrats and the national press got with it, and the best way to do such is for you to demand they do. If these actions are not properly rooted out and punished, you could be the next to be the victim of this organization—no matter what your background or political leanings. That should really scare you.