It’s the equivalent of “The dog ate my homework.” Late last Friday the Internal Revenue Service employed that classic schoolboy cover-up to explain why the agency would not be handing over e-mail and other records demanded by Congressional investigators who are looking into charges that Obama appointees improperly and unlawfully used the IRS to scrutinize Tea Party groups and conservative organizations and delay their applications for tax-exempt status. At the center of the ongoing brouhaha is former administrator Lois Lerner, who headed the division that processed applications for tax-exempt status.
Last month the House of Representatives voted to hold Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify about the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups. On Friday, the IRS informed Congress that they have lost thousands of Lois Lerner’s e-mails from the period of January 2009-April 2011, due to a supposed computer crash.
“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,” said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.). "There needs to be an immediate investigation and forensic audit by Department of Justice as well as the Inspector General."
“Just a short time ago, [IRS] Commissioner Koskinen promised to produce all Lerner documents,” said Chairman Camp. “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.”
House Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany Jr., M.D. (R-La.) was similarly critical and disbelieving. "In the course of the Committee's investigation, the Administration repeatedly claimed we were getting access to all relevant IRS documents,” said Rep. Boustany. “Only now — thirteen months into the investigation — the IRS reveals that key emails from the time of the targeting have been lost. And they bury that fact deep in an unrelated letter on a Friday afternoon. In that same letter, they urge Congress to end the investigations into IRS wrongdoing. This is not the transparency promised to the American people. If there is no smidgeon of corruption what is the Administration hiding?"
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