The Internal Revenue Service, in a release late last week, admitted that it has lost emails sent and received by five more of its employees connected to the agency’s alleged targeting of conservative groups that applied for non-profit status in the year preceding the 2012 election.
The agency came under fire earlier this year after admitting that it had lost an untold number of emails from the account of Lois Lerner, who formerly headed the IRS Exempt Organizations Division. It was Lerner’s division that was found to be using improper methods for identifying applications that would be given extra scrutiny. The majority of groups singled out were conservative, though some liberal or progressive groups were also subject to additional examination.
Lerner suffered a computer crash, and after IT personnel determined that the computer’s data was unrecoverable, the machine was reportedly destroyed. The computer’s crash and the destruction both occurred well before the targeting issue became public and before Congress began investigating the issue. However, Republicans in Congress have gone to great lengths to create the impression that the agency willfully destroyed evidence of wrongdoing.
As it has maintained with other problems retrieving data for Congressional investigators, the agency said that it had seen no evidence of wrongdoing connected to the lost emails. Nevertheless, when she appeared before the House Oversight Committee, Lerner took the 5th Amendment.
“To the contrary, the computer issues identified appear to be the same sorts of issues routinely experienced by employees within the IRS, in other government agencies and in the private sector,” the IRS said. “In addition, each of the five hard drive issues resulting in a probable loss of emails substantially predates the onset of the investigations in 2013.”
Still, a misfired email alerted IRS officials in Washington of the targeting in 2010, “a year earlier than previously acknowledged,” according to a report by Reuters.
House Oversight & Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) on Friday issued a statement blasting the agency for concocting what he called “ever-changing story is practically impossible to follow at this point, as they modify it each time to accommodate new facts.”
He continued, “This pattern must stop. Attorney General Holder must appoint a special prosecutor to sort the truth from the fiction at the IRS. Americans deserve better.”
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