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Saturday, June 14, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 401

IRS Logo 2House Ways & Means Committee Press Release:  IRS Claims to Have Lost Over 2 Years of Lerner Emails (June 13, 2014):

Today, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) issued the following statement regarding the Internal Revenue Service informing the Committee that they have lost Lois Lerner emails from a period of January 2009 – April 2011.  Due to a supposed computer crash, the agency only has Lerner emails to and from other IRS employees during this time frame.  The IRS claims it cannot produce emails written only to or from Lerner and outside agencies or groups, such as the White House, Treasury, Department of Justice, FEC, or Democrat offices.

“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.

“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.”

Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany Jr., M.D. (R-LA) added, "In the course of the Committee's investigation, the Administration repeatedly claimed we were getting access to all relevant IRS documents. 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?"

IRS Statement (June 13, 2014):

At the request of the Senate Finance Committee, the IRS today provided a summary of its production of email and materials to the Committee related to the processing and review of applications for tax-exempt status, as described in the May 2013 report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. The IRS has made unprecedented efforts in connection with this effort, producing more than 750,000 pages of documents to help complete the investigations. In total, the IRS’s efforts to respond to Congress have involved more than 250 IRS employees working more than 120,000 hours at a direct cost of nearly $10 million.

As we advised the committee three months ago, we have completed the production of materials related to the investigation, including 11,000 emails sent or received by Lois Lerner.

Since then, at the request of other Congressional committees, the IRS has been working on the identification and production of other Lois Lerner emails. The additional emails do not relate to the Finance Committee’s investigation. As part of this additional search, the IRS collected emails from 83 individuals. Congressional investigators have – or will soon have – a total of 67,000 emails sent or received by Ms. Lerner. In the course of collecting and producing Ms. Lerner’s additional emails, the IRS determined her hard drive crashed in 2011. At the time, Ms. Lerner asked IRS IT professionals to restore her hard drive, but they were unable to do so. Nonetheless, the IRS has or will produce 24,000 Lerner emails from this 2009-2011 time period, largely from the files of the other 82 individuals. The IRS’s production to Congress of the 67,000 Lerner emails is nearly complete.

The IRS is committed to working with Congress. The IRS has remained focused on being thorough and responding as quickly as possible to the wide-ranging requests from Congress while taking steps to protect underlying taxpayer information.

IRS Letter to Senate Finance Committee (June 13, 2014):

I am writing to provide an update on IRS document productions to Congress. As of mid-March 2014, the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways & Means Committee had received the documents the IRS identified as related to the processing and review of applications for tax-exempt status as described in the May 2013 report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. See Enclosure 1. As my August 29, 2013 letter to you described, in order to produce those documents, we ran agreed search terms on many (then 77, now 83) custodians’ electronic materials, reviewed the resulting materials for responsive documents, and produced them. See Enclosure 2. Production of those materials identified as responsive from the agreed custodians and search terms was completed three months ago. See Enclosure 1.

The IRS hopes that your investigation can be concluded and the Senate Finance Committee’s report issued in the very near future so that the IRS can then take further corrective action to address issues, where necessary. Congressional reports are important to learn from, address, and move beyond the problems and concerns identified. Your committee’s conclusions and recommendations will be a critically important step in that process.

More than 250 IRS employees have spent over 120,000 hours working on compliance with several investigations stemming from last May’s report related to the processing and review of applications for tax-exempt status by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. We have responded to hundreds of Congressional requests for information. In so doing, the IRS has incurred a direct cost of nearly $10 million. We have spent an additional $6-8 million to optimize existing information technology systems and ensure a stable infrastructure for the production and required redactions to protect taxpayer information. I have attached a document describing some of the challenges and limitations that the IRS faced in its production process. See Enclosure 3.

Since mid-March, in response to Chairman Dave Camp’s request and Chairman Darrell Issa’s subpoena, the IRS has been reviewing and producing all remaining email for which Lois Lerner was a custodian – regardless of search terms, relevance, or subject matter. In other words, these Lerner documents are beyond and in addition to the already-produced Lerner materials the IRS identified as related to the processing and review of applications for tax-exempt status, which your Committee had received by mid-March. In addition, as described in Enclosure 3, when unavailable from Ms. Lerner’s custodial account, we are producing Lerner-related email (i.e., email on which Ms. Lerner was an author or recipient) from other custodians regardless of subject matter. In certain instances, such as personal conversations between Ms. Lerner and her family regarding health issues, we expect to make the materials available here at the IRS for interested Congressional staff to come review. In all, the IRS has produced or will produce or make available approximately 67,000 emails in which Ms. Lerner was an author or a recipient. As per your staff’s request, we will continue to include your committee in our productions until or unless you instruct us otherwise.

Description of IRS Email Collection and Production (June 13, 2014):

Over the past year, the Internal Revenue Service made a massive document production in response to Congressional and other inquiries. This activity has been challenging since processing email for production to third parties is a more complex process for the IRS than it is for many private or public organizations. Below we analyze why it is so complicated for the agency to respond to what otherwise in this modern day seem like straightforward requests, including an assessment of what is and is not currently possible. Sophisticated IRS information technology systems are designed to facilitate tax administration, cost-effective use of resources, and preserve confidential taxpayer information, not to facilitate matters related to document preservation, collection, processing, and review. The IRS faces unique challenges in producing email to third parties because of how its email is stored, the security required for IRS email, and the laws protecting confidential taxpayer information from disclosure.

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Comments

750,000 pages, most of which are irrelevant, immaterial and/or heavily redacted (in the interests of privacy of course). Now we learn that the most important documents, emails from/to Lerner and other agencies and Democratic members of Congress that were demanding prosecution of conservative groups, for the two most critical years of the harassment, have been conveniently "lost".

What a freakin' coincidence - give us a break.

First of all, a basic search for all emails with Lerner as sender or addressee of emails from other departments known to be involved, FBI, FEC, DOJ, and yes, even the IRS should pick up every relevant email. This should take all of a couple minutes.

Second, the hard drives on Lerner's computers and the hard drives of every recipient/author of emails to/from her, server(s) she used will have her emails stored, along with backups routinely performed as daily maintenance as well. Is the administration claiming all these sources have been irretrievably corrupted/lost at the very same time?

Once again, give us a break.

This is a degree of coverup that makes Nixon look like a choir boy. Now, Lerner will never agree to immunity because she believes that there is nothing left to incriminate her.

Obama knows nothing can touch him now. The next two+ years will see the "fundamental transformation" on steroids.

Posted by: geokstr | Jun 14, 2014 8:34:31 AM

Grant immunity to Lerner Oliver North style and ask her. Easy.

Posted by: Olsonist | Jun 16, 2014 12:25:25 PM