Paul L. Caron
Dean


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 782

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  IRS Won't Release Lois Lerner Emails -- Because They Might Be Duplicates, by Robert W. Wood:

Eureka! The IRS says it may have found 6,400 more emails from Lois Lerner. What do they say? Who are they targeting? We don’t know, as the IRS says it won’t release them. The reason?

This is a good one. Not only the IRS, but the Obama Justice Department is weighing in on this. We need to be sure we have not already released these emails, they say. After all, they might be duplicates. We don’t even want members of Congress to see these until we can determine if we already provided them. ...

Of course, the IRS said in 2014 (a little late?) that Ms. Lerner’s computer crashed in 2011. Oops, no one’s fault that we lost a few years’ worth of emails. We kept being reminded how hard the IRS looked and how terribly expensive it was that the IRS had to do this. But the inspector general found about 35,000 emails from recycled back-up tapes.

It then turned out that the key IRS IT people weren’t even asked to look at back up tapes. Isn’t this a little insulting? The IRS’s admission that it couldn’t find Lerner’s emails reinvigorated congressional investigations into the IRS. Of course, the IRS sort of apologized in May 2013 for singling out Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status. But the seeming cover-up doesn’t exactly seem sorry.

One email from former IRS firebrand Lois Lerner is particularly revealing. Sure, she said she did nothing wrong, she was the victim, and she still took the Fifth. But in February 2012, she wanted to “put together some training points to help them [IRS staffers] understand the potential pitfalls” of revealing too much information to Congress. This is the IRS version of don’t tell. You might have assumed that retired but officially silent Lois Lerner–who ran a key IRS division–might face charges.

Congress found her in contempt after she professed her innocence, and thereafter took the Fifth. Much later, she broke her silence to Politico, saying she did nothing wrong, claiming that she was the victim. The U.S. Attorney’s Office was supposedly considering prosecution, but now it announced she is off the hook and will not be charged with contempt. So said a seven-page letter the U.S. Attorney–on his last day in office–sent to Speaker John A. Boehner with the news and its rationale.

Wouldn’t some answers be nice? There is arguably no part of the government more important than our tax system. Our country cannot exist without it. Our tax code and how we administer it could be improved. Yet it is still a system with integrity, one that is administered mostly on the honor system. IRS employees deserve better than the black eye they are getting over this mess. American taxpayers deserve better too.

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2015/06/the-irs-scandal-day-772.html

IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink

Comments

The IRS doesn't want to waste anyone's time with unnecessary paperwork!

Posted by: Ryan | Jun 30, 2015 10:13:19 AM

One has to wonder what the objection is to providing duplicates. If the same message appears twice anyone seeing both will have no problem noting it and passing on. The only rational reason appears to be that, if some messages were altered, duplicates that had key differences would become apparent and embarrass the IRS.
Can you think of any other reason for shunning duplicates?

Posted by: Daniel | Jun 30, 2015 11:05:12 AM

"Not only the IRS, but the Obama Justice Department is weighing in on this. We need to be sure we have not already released these emails, they say. After all, they might be duplicates. "

Well, we saw with Hillary what happens when investigators get ahold of the duplicates, they check them against the ones already provided and this is how Hillary was caught not turning over all of her emails and also how she was caught ALTERING the emails she did turn over.

Posted by: wodun | Jun 30, 2015 11:09:12 AM

Nice try Mr. Woods, but this is all old news. Instead, the “new” news is that yesterday, in response to Judge Sullivan’s order, IRS updated its status report on the 6,400 potential emails recovered by TIGTA. According to the update, the Service’s much-denigrated manual de-duplication effort resulted in approximately 1,500 emails that are not duplicates. Doing basic math, that means that 4,900–or 77%–of the 6,400 recovered emails were duplicates of previously identified and produced emails. IRS is now reviewing the 1,500 non-duplicates to determine which ones, if any, are responsive to JW’s FOIA request. At JW’s request, the Service has prioritized processing of the forensically-recovered 1,500 emails.

According to the report, at this point the Service has been releasing LLerner communications to JW on a rolling basis each month for 17 months. To date, the Service has released 19,008 pages of responsive or arguably responsive communications to Judicial Watch, including 1,555 pages since June 18, 2015. (I must have missed JW’s press release!) Documents responsive to JW’s four FOIA requests were located by searching a database containing over 1,000,000 pages of documents produced to the congressional committees during their several investigations of the Service. That database was assembled from over 80 records custodians. Your tax dollars at work, mainly so that JW can duplicate the congressional investigations. What a great county; only in America.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Jun 30, 2015 11:42:29 AM

Mr. Daniel: By definition an alteration of a duplicate is not a duplicate. Right?

Mr. Wodum: Please specify the emails Sec. Clinton "was caught ALTERING."

Posted by: Publius Novus | Jun 30, 2015 11:46:22 AM

Nice try Mr. Woods, but this is all old news. Instead, the “new” news is that yesterday, in response to Judge Sullivan’s order, IRS updated its status report on the 6,400 potential emails recovered by TIGTA. According to the update, the Service’s much-denigrated manual de-duplication effort resulted in approximately 1,500 emails that are not duplicates. Doing basic math, that means that 4,900–or 77%–of the 6,400 recovered emails were duplicates of previously identified and produced emails. IRS is now reviewing the 1,500 non-duplicates to determine which ones, if any, are responsive to JW’s FOIA request. At JW’s request, the Service has prioritized processing of the forensically-recovered 1,500 emails.

According to the report, at this point the Service has been releasing LLerner communications to JW on a rolling basis each month for 17 months. To date, the Service has released 19,008 pages of responsive or arguably responsive communications to Judicial Watch, including 1,555 pages since June 18, 2015. (I must have missed JW’s press release!) Documents responsive to JW’s four FOIA requests were located by searching a database containing over 1,000,000 pages of documents produced to the congressional committees during their several investigations of the Service. That database was assembled from over 80 records custodians. Your tax dollars at work, so that JW can duplicate the congressional investigations. Only in America.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Jun 30, 2015 1:10:44 PM