Bad News: It Could Take A Decade to Get to the Bottom of "Lost" IRS Emails

Katie Pavlich

6/23/2014 11:00:00 AM - Katie Pavlich

If you're looking for answers about what happened to those "lost" IRS emails, you better buckle in for the long haul.

As investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson points out the EPA destroyed emails back in the 1990s and now thirteen years after a lawsuit, there is closure in the case but the emails are still gone.

According to an Associated Press report, a federal judge has held the EPA in contempt for destroying computer files sought after by a conservative group: Landmark Legal Foundation.

It’s taken more than 13 years.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth had ordered the EPA on Jan. 19, 2001, at the end of the Clinton administration, to preserve all documents relevant to a Freedom of Information Act request by Landmark regarding the federal agency’s contact with outside groups. That same day, EPA Administrator Carol Browner asked a technician to delete her computer files. Browner later testified that she was unaware of the court order and simply wanted to remove some games from her work computer.

According to AP, EPA officials later admitted wiping clean the computer files from Browner and other top staff despite Lamberth’s order.

In finding the EPA in contempt this week, Judge Lamberth ordered the agency to pay Landmark’s legal fees. That means that ultimately taxpayers foot the bill for the EPA’s misconduct.


Over the weekend reports surfaced about the IRS conveniently and quietly getting rid of previously hired email backup server company Sonasoft after news of the IRS targeting scandal broke last year.

The IRS had a contract with email backup service vendor Sonasoft starting in 2005, according to FedSpending.org, which lists the contract as being for "automatic data processing services." Sonasoft's motto is "email archiving done right," and the company lists the IRS as a customer.

In 2009, Sonasoft even sent out a Tweet advertising its work for the IRS.

If the IRS emails still exist and weren't deliberately destroyed, it's going to take a long time to get them. Further, executives at Sonasoft can expect to have subpoenas from Congress landing on their desks very soon.