Paul L. Caron

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 987

IRS Logo 2Americans for Tax Reform, IRS Erases Hard Drive Despite Court Order:

The IRS erased a hard drive belonging to a former top employee involved in the agency’s controversial, taxpayer-funded hiring of elite trial law firm Quinn Emanuel.

Although there was a court preservation order on all documents related to the IRS hiring of the outside firm, the hard drive was erased anyway. The order was borne of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted by Microsoft.

Even though the white shoe law firm has zero experience handling sensitive tax data, taxpayers have been footing bills of over $1,000 per hour for its services.

The deleted hard drive belonged to the agency’s former director of transfer pricing operations at the IRS Large Business and International Division, likely a key employee involved in the controversy. It is not known if there is any way to recover documents belonging to the employee. ...

This is not the first time the agency has failed to preserve key information. The IRS also “accidentally” destroyed the hard drive belonging to Lois Lerner during investigations into the targeting of conservative groups. As many as 24,000 emails were lost forever when 422 backup tapes were wiped clean despite an agency-wide preservation order and congressional subpoena.

In the Lerner case, the IRS failed to take simple steps to ensure compliance with the order, according to a report by the House Oversight Committee.

Now, it appears that important information has once again disappeared because of IRS corruption, incompetence, or both.

IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink


1. The IRS did not erase LLerner’s hard drive. Lerner’s hard drive failed and was replaced. There is no evidence that Lerner or anyone else purposefully killed the hard drive.

2. Mr. VOI: Why is this a Democrat/Republican issue for you? You seem to believe everything–in an agency that has a grand total of TWO political appointees–is political. What political motivation would exist for the erasure of a hard drive relating to the hiring of a private-contractor law firm? Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi. See #3 below.

3. This dispute is interesting because conservatives usually promote the hiring of private contractors and/or privatization of everything. Now they turn about and attack it. In this case, the IRS (and/or Chief Counsel, not clear from the case) hired a large, reputable, private law firm to handle a large, complicated tax dispute. In almost all instances, conservatives argue that private contractors are better than gubmint employees because. Because and because. Here, they are arguing that the private law firm lacks sufficient experience.

4. And get a load of the argument that the contractor is inappropriate–“the white shoe law firm has zero experience handling sensitive tax data.” Really!? I am really surprised to learn that the IRS hired a white shoe firm that “has zero experience handling sensitive tax data.” I guess the firm never received any “sensitive tax data” from any of its Fortune 500 tax clients? Never stored sensitive tax data of its clients? Never litigated a tax case with “sensitive tax data?” Really?

Posted by: Publius Novus | Jan 21, 2016 10:45:19 AM

Wouldn't the IT department or the FOIA officer be held accountable, at some point, by some judge? Sheesh. This has happened multiple times ...

Posted by: RNR | Jan 21, 2016 10:31:21 AM

"Serious prison time" assumes a Justice Department interested in prosecuting misbehavior.....

It's time to make violations of FOIA a civil matter for the individual responsible for the records. I'll wager federal employees will be much more careful when someone like Judicial Watch or Americans for TaxReform can sue and take their house.

Posted by: Aaron | Jan 21, 2016 8:56:15 AM

Has the judge reacted? Anybody been thrown in jail? Of course not. But then this isn't Watergate. THAT was a Republican scandal, Democrats always get the judicial benefit of the doubt, even though there is none here. Just a disgrace. And of course, little to no MSM coverage.

Posted by: VoteOutIncumbents | Jan 21, 2016 8:19:04 AM

And the hits just keep on coming. Until some IRS management starts doing some serious prison-time, this kind of contempt for judicial process and authority will continue.

Posted by: ruralcounsel | Jan 21, 2016 4:52:43 AM