According to the House Ways and Means Committee, the IRS has "lost" two years of emails belonging to former head of tax exempt organizations Lois Lerner. The IRS doesn't have a record of her emails to outside groups or government agencies from January 2009 through April 2011, conveniently encompassing some of the same time when tea party groups were being targeted for extra scrutiny and possible criminal prosecution. The IRS says the loss of emails is due to a "computer crash" and claims emails from or to Lerner from the White House, Democratic members of Congress, the Treasury Department, FEC and Department of Justice cannot be located. They do however have emails belonging to Lerner that she sent to other IRS employees.
“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," Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp said in a statement. “Just a short time ago, Commissioner Koskinen promised to produce all Lerner documents. 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. This failure of the IRS requires the White House, which promised to get to the bottom of this, to do an Administration-wide search and production of any emails to or from Lois Lerner. The Administration has repeatedly referred us back to the IRS for production of materials. It is clear that is wholly insufficient when it comes to determining the full scope of the violation of taxpayer rights.”
Emails belonging to Lerner that were not "lost" have shown that she was in contact with Democratic members of Congress and the Department of Justice about prosecuting tea party groups. Just this week, emails surfaced showing Lerner sent confidential tax information belonging to conservative groups to the FBI for investigation just before the 2010 midterm elections.
According to Camp, this is the first time the IRS has disclosed the loss of emails since the investigation into IRS targeting of conservatives started more than a year ago.
Camp: Learning about this over a year into the investigation is unacceptable & calls into question the credibility of the IRS’s response— Ways and Means (@WaysandMeansGOP) June 13, 2014
UPDATE: Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa responds:
“Isn’t it convenient for the Obama Administration that the IRS now says it has suddenly realized it lost Lois Lerner’s emails requested by Congress and promised by Commissioner John Koskinen? 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? Congressional oversight has revealed that the IRS has –potentially illegally– shared confidential taxpayer information with the FBI and lost crucial email records even as the agency continues to withhold information by not fully complying with the Committee’s subpoena. Left to the IRS’ own preferences, the White House would still be retelling the lie that this was all about mismanagement confined to a local office. 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. If there wasn't nefarious conduct that went much higher than Lois Lerner in the IRS targeting scandal, why are they playing these games?"
This post has been updated.