Paul L. Caron
Dean




Friday, December 12, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 582

IRS Logo 2Columbus Dispatch editorial: ‘Lost’ IRS Emails Might Reveal Truth:

It’s unsurprising that the “lost” email messages of former IRS official Lois Lerner, the disappearance of which conveniently coincided with her being investigated for the improper targeting of conservative groups, have been located by the Treasury Department’s inspector general.

Tech experts, as well as common sense, suggested from the outset that it was implausible that the emails just happened to vanish when they did, and were unrecoverable.

But that was the administration’s story, and it was sticking to it — at least until after the midterm elections.

The inspector general reported that 30,000 of Lerner’s emails have been recovered from the period of January 2009 to June 2011, the critical time when she and her colleagues were going after nonprofit groups whose ideology they didn’t like.

The content of the emails is unknown; investigators have said it might take months to sift through them.

For those who have lost track: Politically active conservative groups had their applications for nonprofit status delayed leading up to the 2012 elections and were asked improper questions about their affiliations, beliefs and even the content of their prayers. Some cried foul, but largely were ignored for months.

The Internal Revenue Service denied the targeting until after the election, and only when it became clear the issue wasn’t going away.

In May 2013, Lerner staged a limited confession in response to a planted question at a conference, in apparent attempt to limit the damage.

President Barack Obama at first expressed anger and vowed to get to the bottom of the issue ... until he felt it had blown over enough to dismiss the whole affair as a “phony scandal” without a “ smidgen” of corruption involved.

Meanwhile, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, appointed about a year ago, went before Congress insisting that the agency had bent over backward to recover Lerner’s emails, but “confirmed that backup tapes from 2011 no longer existed because they have been recycled, pursuant to the IRS normal policy.”

Not only would that have violated standard government records policy, according to testimony from the head of the National Archives, it turned out not to be true.

In light of all this, it’s alarming that after extracting the Lerner emails from the recovered files, the IG plans to send them to the IRS for redactions of confidential information. That would be the definition of allowing the fox to guard the henhouse.

It’s good news that the American public might finally get some answers in this investigation.

But it’s another dismaying example of how the administration that promised to be the “most transparent in history” has routinely misled, delayed and obfuscated in an effort to make its actions look better, especially before an election.

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2014/12/the-irs-scandal-5.html

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