In May of 2013, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), an independent agency that oversees the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), published a report that stated that the IRS had been earmarking applications for tax-exempt groups with the words “patriot,” “tea party,” “Israel,” or “occupy” in their names. The IRS had held these applications in limbo, neither approving nor denying the tax-exempt status, but instead delayed ruling, and in some cases, the IRS had “requested unnecessary information from targeted groups.”
Following this report, the House of Representative Oversight and Government Reform Committee called upon certain members of the IRS to testify about these claims. One of these members was Lois Lerner. She appeared before the committee on May 10, 2013 and after opening remarks in which she stated, “I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations. And I have not provided false information to this or any other congressional committee.” After these statements, Mrs. Lerner pled the 5th Amendment.
Following the TIGTA report and Lois Lerner’s invocation of the 5th Amendment in the Congressional Committee, the House Oversight Committee subpoenaed the emails of Ms. Lerner both in August of 2013 and in February of 2014. Earlier this year, on March 26, 2014, John Koskinen, the IRS Commissioner, appeared before the House Oversight Committee promised to provide “all of Lois Lerner’s emails,” to the committee.
Recently new information has come to light concerning these emails. Earlier this week, on June 23rd, the House Oversight Committee once again hosted Mr. Koskinen. In his testimony and statement, Mr. Koskinen revealed that due to a hard drive failure in the middle of 2011, two years of her emails were lost, despite the “best” efforts the IRS IT division, the IRS Criminal Investigation division, and “HP experts.”
Many are unable to believe that a computer crash would happen to coincide with the time frame in which there would be emails about a possible IRS targeting scandal. House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa wrote in his statement that, “You personally did not destroy these e-mails,” implying that there was indeed foul play in order to cover up evidence of IRS specifically targeting these groups based on their political beliefs. Republican Congressman former Republican Nominee for Vice President, Paul Ryan stated, “You are the Internal Revenue Service. You can reach into the lives of hard-working taxpayers and with a phone call, an email or a letter, you can turn their lives upside-down. You ask taxpayers to hang on to seven years of their personal tax information in case they are ever audited, and you can’t keep six months’ worth of employee emails?”