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IRS lost emails by official in tea party probe

Lois Lerner

FILE - In this May 22, 2013 file photo, Lois Lerner, head of the IRS unit that decides whether to grant tax-exempt status to groups, listens on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

By
From page A1 | June 14, 2014 |

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service said Friday it has lost a trove of emails to and from a central figure in the agency’s tea party controversy, sparking outrage from congressional investigators who have been probing the agency for more than a year.

The IRS told Congress Friday it cannot locate many of Lois Lerner’s emails prior to 2011 because her computer crashed during the summer of that year.

Lerner headed the IRS division that processed applications for tax-exempt status. The IRS acknowledged last year that agents had improperly scrutinized applications for tax-exempt status by tea party and other conservative groups.

“The fact that I am just learning about this, over a year into the investigation, is completely unacceptable and now calls into question the credibility of the IRS’ response to congressional inquiries,” said Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. “There needs to be an immediate investigation and forensic audit by Department of Justice as well as the inspector general.”

The Ways and Means Committee is one of three congressional committees investigating the IRS over its handling of tea party applications from 2010 to 2012. The Justice Department and the IRS inspector general are also investigating.

Congressional investigators have shown that IRS officials in Washington were closely involved in the handling of tea party applications, many of which languished for more than a year without action. But so far, they have not publicly produced evidence that anyone outside the agency directed the targeting or even knew about it.

If anyone outside the agency was involved, investigators were hoping for clues in Lerner’s emails.

The IRS said technicians went to great lengths trying to recover data from Lerner’s computer in 2011. In emails provided by the IRS, technicians said they sent the computer to a forensic lab run by the agency’s criminal investigations unit. But to no avail.

The IRS was able to generate 24,000 Lerner emails from the 2009 to 2011 because Lerner had copied in other IRS employees. The agency said it pieced together the emails from the computers of 82 other IRS employees.

But an untold number are gone. Camp’s office said the missing emails are mainly ones to and from people outside the IRS, “such as the White House, Treasury, Department of Justice, FEC, or Democrat offices.”

The IRS said in a statement that more than 250 IRS employees have been working to assist congressional investigations, spending nearly $10 million to produce more than 750,000 documents.

Overall, the IRS said it is producing a total of 67,000 emails to and from Lerner, covering the period from 2009 to 2013.

“The IRS is committed to working with Congress,” the IRS said in a statement. “The IRS has remained focused on being thorough and responding as quickly as possible to the wide-ranging requests from Congress while taking steps to protect underlying taxpayer information.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, called Friday’s disclosure “an outrageous impediment” to the committee’s investigation.

“Even more egregious is the fact we are learning about this a full year after our initial request to provide the committee with any and all documents relating to our investigation,” Hatch said.

Lerner has emerged as a key figure in the tea party probe. In May 2013, she was the first IRS official to publicly acknowledge that agents had improperly scrutinized applications.

About two weeks later, Lerner was subpoenaed to testify at a congressional hearing. But after making a brief statement in which she said she had done nothing wrong, Lerner refused to answer questions, invoking her constitutional right against self-incrimination.

The IRS placed Lerner on administrative leave shortly after the congressional hearing. She retired last fall.

In May, the House voted to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress. Her case has been turned over to the U.S. attorney for the district of Columbia.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

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Discussion | 58 comments

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  • Tax PayerJune 14, 2014 - 5:24 am

    This makes me sick. This is "Watergate" all over again and it goes to the top. Get a forensic person in there to recover them. She should be prosecuted and put into prison until she tells us where her direction came from.

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  • DanielJune 14, 2014 - 5:40 am

    This was completely expected, next Obama's NSA will also have "accidentally" erased the same emails. With this latest fiasco along with Obama's manufactured YouTube video riot, terrorist swap for a deserter to divert attention from VA deaths still CD, Kirchy and Porno will come here and make excuses and attack only the GOP.

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  • CD BrooksJune 14, 2014 - 6:14 am

    So Daniel, what's your point?

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  • rlw895June 14, 2014 - 7:55 am

    TP: Keep your chin up! There's got to be another John Dean out there.

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  • CD BrooksJune 14, 2014 - 6:37 am

    It would be ridiculous to pin this on Democrats. This is the GOP vs. the Tea Party. Republicans vs. their Conservative counterparts, none of them trust each other or get along. Rove and McConnell are behind this. And why not? Two of the most smarmy, sleaziest men in politics would concoct stories about a captured soldier then see to it certain information disappears. Yeah, it was them.

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  • FDCJune 14, 2014 - 7:31 am

    ????? This has to be the most curious post in recent memory.

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  • CD BrooksJune 14, 2014 - 7:33 am

    Good morning FDC! You haven't been around in awhile. Hope all is well. Okay so this is the Rove approach, how you like me now? Toss whatever BS you like out there and see what sticks. I don’t have to prove anything in regard to this issue and you can’t so where does that leave us?

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  • Rudy MadronichJune 14, 2014 - 7:45 am

    CD this is typical coming from you deny and avoid what is right in front of your eyes you continue to blindly follow and defend Obama and those that do his bidding. But this is what I and every one else expect from you. It is almost like you expect Obama to reward you for your blind allegiance.

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  • CD BrooksJune 14, 2014 - 7:57 am

    Mr. Madronich, I might suggest the same of you. Have you any evidence to substantiate YOUR claims?

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  • Rudy MadronichJune 14, 2014 - 8:19 am

    CD So i guess no one in the IRS backs up any thing on their computers. And the fact that they are only now saying that the e mails were lost after a full year after the request was made for the e-mails. For you to continue to deny and avoid the truth only shows your blind and unyielding support for this President no mater what he has done, is doing and will continue to do to. I will bet that you were the first to call for President Nixon's head during the watergate hearings.

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  • CD BrooksJune 14, 2014 - 8:50 am

    Mr. Madronich, this is not unusual but as usual, you are missing the point. I'm typing very slowly here do you have specific evidence to make these accusations? Hmm, Watergate. Wasn’t that like in ’72? We had just gotten married and I wasn’t the brilliant political activist I’ve become today. My favorite article ever concerning Nixon was I believe, in the Berkeley Barb 1969: “Nixon gets his rocks off!” That having to do with the moon landing and samples they took from the surface. Hysterical! :)

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  • Rudy MadronichJune 14, 2014 - 6:48 am

    Very convenient that the e mails that investgaters have been asking for have some how been lost, What a suprise well that is unless its the Obama administration and we can all see this is how they work deny any wrong doing put off providing the information that is asked for and then losing that information. This is just another of the unending cover ups. Well most of us can see that and we all know just who continue to blindly follow and protect the he president.

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  • rlw895June 14, 2014 - 8:24 pm

    RM: The emails were not "somehow" lost. The story is Lerner's computer crashed at some point and they were lost that way. It wasn't convenient at all, for anybody. What I want some computer guy to explain is how one PC crashing loses emails that should be on a server somewhere. I don't understand these things.

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  • rlw895June 14, 2014 - 7:48 am

    What's an "outrageous impediment?"

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  • CD BrooksJune 14, 2014 - 7:58 am

    Hatch-ism...

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  • DanielJune 14, 2014 - 8:29 am

    CD that's a good one either Rove or McConnel hacked into the IRS email and deleted all of Lerner's emails political persecution of the tea party. If you really believe that, there's no hope nor reaason with you.

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  • CD BrooksJune 14, 2014 - 8:53 am

    Daniel, right back at you. That's what I've been trying to tell YOU all along. Thanks! BTW, how did you know this "was completely expected?"

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  • CD BrooksJune 14, 2014 - 9:00 am

    Daniel, abso-friggin-lutely! I’m saying there is no place Rove won’t go to make this administration look bad. And “Hillary has brain damage.” Say what you like, Karl Rove is a bad man with no scruples and will do say or pay whatever it takes to win, trust me. There are no facts in evidence here. There isn’t a smoking gun. So Rove might possibly create one, and McConnell is just as dangerous crawling along sniffing his behind. That's really no stranger than every single piece you write here.

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  • Rudy MadronichJune 14, 2014 - 9:09 am

    CD go and continue to try and put your spin on this like you continue to do with every thing you comment about. We can all see who you are a sheep being lead by the nose by Obama and the Democratic party.

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  • CD BrooksJune 14, 2014 - 9:19 am

    Mr. Madronich, again. As Usual. As Always. And please think about this. You did not answer the question. Just sayin...

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  • Teach5thJune 14, 2014 - 9:20 am

    Rudy, et al.: You have to feel sorry for CD. He obviously believed strongly in his choice for president 6 years ago - whether it was because he actually thought that a community organizer would/could have a clue how to be a president, or whether it was to assuage his white man's guilt (only CD knows for sure). Now, after trying to defend his man's ineptness time after time, something as ludicrous as "Geez, we lost all the incriminating e-mails. Silly us" is pinned on Carl Rove. It's time to up that medication, CD.

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  • CD BrooksJune 14, 2014 - 9:27 am

    Teach5th, you're hilarious and wrong as the day is long. Karl Rove.

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  • CD BrooksJune 14, 2014 - 9:11 am

    Mr. Madronich, so okay enough of this. Does anybody here have solid factual evidence from either side? No you do not end of story. Once the facts are played out then we’ll see where this goes.

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  • Rudy MadronichJune 14, 2014 - 9:21 am

    CD we can all see that you have nothing to say so you continue with your spin. This is nothing but you contuning to drink the kool aid that Obama the democratics have you addicted to.

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  • CD BrooksJune 14, 2014 - 9:29 am

    Mr. Madronich, maybe I'm just not speaking loud enough? AGAIN, YOU DID NOT ANSWER THE QUESTION!

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  • JagJune 14, 2014 - 9:35 am

    The IRS is committed to working with congress only so they can stay close to the investigation so the know where to go and block the investigation, and Orrin shut the h*** up you are part of the problem, those email are out there.

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  • CD BrooksJune 14, 2014 - 9:58 am

    Time for a ride maybe a movie. Hope you all have very nice day! :)

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  • rlw895June 14, 2014 - 10:23 am

    Look on the bright side. Now there is something more for the House to investigate while doing little else. I can't say "do nothing" anymore because the bipartisan effort to fix the VA shows our government can still work for us.

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  • DanielJune 14, 2014 - 11:16 am

    CD neither Murdoch nor Rove are President nor can order to obstruct investigations and destroy emails and then hillariously claim that they're fully cooperating while the obvious to all knowledgeable and unbiased Americans that the opposite is obviously true. It's really too bad that extreme partisanship is severely tainting your logic.

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  • the maidJune 14, 2014 - 11:28 am

    the missing e-mails can be found in the bottom left hand drawer of Obama's desk.

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  • CD BrooksJune 14, 2014 - 1:56 pm

    Daniel, you just keep thinking that way the whole thing really means zero to me.

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  • rlw895June 14, 2014 - 6:59 pm

    D: So you think the president ordered these emails destroyed?

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  • Rudy MadronichJune 14, 2014 - 12:25 pm

    Every one CD is gone to the movies or thats what he tells us. He was having trouble defending yet another Obama cover up. I am surprised that we do not hear from the other Obama defenders. I guess they are still drinking the kool aid trying to figure out just how to spin this one.

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  • CD BrooksJune 14, 2014 - 1:54 pm

    Mr. Madronich, I'm back! Everyone, Rudy STILL has not offered one iota of anything to substantiate his claim. Good grief if you don't have an answer just say so!

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  • CD BrooksJune 14, 2014 - 2:12 pm

    Mr. Madronich et al, don’t any of you have enough sense to understand I set you up? I presented the exact same type of information you folks do. No evidence, no logic, just a stupid scenario that you would ordinarily buy hook line and sinker if it were against a Democrat, then run with it. If Rush or Hannity said it you’d be shouting it from the rooftops! I buried it in your skull and repeated because that is your MO. How you like me now? Rudy, are you reading my comments? Do you understand I’m asking you a legitimate question? As of this moment your responses appear to be those of an id*ot. I asked if you have information to back up your claim that the president is behind this issue? YOU keep avoiding it. Why? STOP deflecting and answer the friggin question.

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  • Rudy MadronichJune 14, 2014 - 3:57 pm

    CD Go on and keep drinking the kool-aid your comments would carry some weight if the story was reported by Rush or Hannity or Fox news. But it was not it was The Associated Press that reported the story. Are you saying that The Associated Press is now lying and resorting to foxisums.

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  • CD BrooksJune 14, 2014 - 4:02 pm

    Mr. Madronich, HUH??? Seriously? Do you actually comprehend what you read? Did you read my post? You're not going to answer the question are you?

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  • CD BrooksJune 14, 2014 - 4:17 pm

    Mr. Madronich, I have asked you 7 times to respond to a comment you made. 7 TIMES Sir! Only a liar or incompetent f00l would continue ignoring the request. Not sure where you land? Good riddance Rudy.

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  • FDCJune 14, 2014 - 5:20 pm

    CD, old friend, someday you will look back and realize how really silly you have been. Lois Lerner did nothing wrong but is pleading the Fifth Amendment. Nothing to worry about there, is there CD. Then when things got close to coming to a head, a computer problem lost all her emails. Sure. You believe that too, don't you CD. Next we will hear "the dog ate my homework." Abe Lincoln's maxim regarding fooling some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time still applies, CD. I guess you enjoy being fooled all of the time. You just can't admit that you are being played for a sucker by your Maximum Leader. Too bad for you, too bad for our country.

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  • CD BrooksJune 14, 2014 - 5:34 pm

    FDC, when the truth comes out we'll look at it then won't we. Until then I'm simply trying to get Mr. Madronich to support his claim. He has wisely chosen not to. Have a good evening!

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  • Rudy MadronichJune 14, 2014 - 8:11 pm

    CD So you are saying that The Associated Press story is a lie and not true. and that the IRS does not back up any computer files or e mails and if the IRS does not back up any of its files or e mails, Is that what you are saying?

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  • rlw895June 14, 2014 - 7:14 pm

    FDC: Lerner was subpoenaed to appear before the House committee when she was already under investigation by the Justice Department. Everyone knew she wouldn't testify. Why bring her in? So people like you could hear her plead the 5th and imagine that means she did something wrong. You would have one more bit of "evidence" for your conspiracy theory. It's all political theater orchestrated by the Republicans.

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  • Mr. SmithJune 14, 2014 - 5:35 pm

    They LOST Lerner's (undoubtedly) incriminating emails? Buwhahahahahah! That's a good one! Buwhahahahahaha!!!!

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  • rlw895June 14, 2014 - 7:15 pm

    Mr.S: Did you read more than the headline?

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  • Mr. SmithJune 14, 2014 - 8:01 pm

    Rlw: Yes I did. I also looked at Lerner's photo again, and almost turned to stone. The photo is of a woman who was being held on contempt of congress charges before this latest faux pas. One who somehow "lost" thousands of her emails, considerd pertinent to her case. Again--buwhahahahaha!

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  • rlw895June 14, 2014 - 8:34 pm

    May we all pray never to be in a highly publicized situation or attacked by paparazzi who want that "great shot" that "tells the whole story." The photo means nothing, except that Lerner at some point in the hearing was not very good at hiding her contempt for the guys running the meeting.

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  • rlw895June 14, 2014 - 8:35 pm

    Mr.S: Why are Lerner's emails "undoubtedly" incriminating? Your bias is showing again.

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  • Mr. SmithJune 14, 2014 - 8:45 pm

    Rlw: I threw in the Medusa reference just to irritate you. But then you admitted here for all to see that Lerner was obviously in contempt of congress. Oh, I know. You are also. But you are not in the hotseat. And you didn't get caught with your hand in the proverbial cookie jar, violating the law of the land. Just go with it. It is just a phony conservative-driven non-scandal, without a "scintilla of evidence that any wrong-doing took place."

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  • Mr. SmithJune 14, 2014 - 9:14 pm

    Sorry--"Smidgen" of evidence.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rlw895June 15, 2014 - 2:39 am

    Mr.S: Did I say that?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mr. SmithJune 15, 2014 - 9:11 am

    Yes, rlw, you did say that. From a different perspective, perhaps, but you did say she was showing her contempt. The more I thought about it, I realized what really bothered me from the beginning about the photo is that the contempt that comes through on Lerner's face is for me--the conservative voter. I hope justice is done in her case. Let chips fall where they may.

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  • rlw895June 15, 2014 - 2:52 am

    Mr.S: Not really irritated. I freely admit/agree it's a nasty photo, and therefore biased, by the mainstream media. Wait a minute; isn't the bias supposed to go the OTHER way? But it will take more than a look to convict of contempt. That's going nowhere. More political theater from the House Republicans.

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  • Mr. SmithJune 14, 2014 - 8:59 pm

    Rlw: The "lost" emails "undoubtedly" contained incriminating evidence against Lerner. Otherwise, they would have been dumped all at once on the congressional oversight comittee after a year of delays. That is my theory. I am entitled to have it, and don't mind the appearance of bias. I am biased against illegal government intrusion into our lives, after all.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rlw895June 15, 2014 - 2:45 am

    Mr.S: An unbiased person would want to test the "computer crash" theory. I was serious about a John Dean being out there, but that presumes the IRS story is false. I'm NOT serious about that presumption. That's the difference between us.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Ulises GuberJune 14, 2014 - 8:09 pm

    IRS , Simply ask the NSA for a copy...

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JagJune 14, 2014 - 8:20 pm

    Lois already asked the NSA and Obama told them No they don't have them,,

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rlw895June 14, 2014 - 8:44 pm

    UG: Good idea. I'm sure the NSA has everything. But they also can't release the data for exactly this kind of purpose. They are supposed to be after terrorists, not IRS officials or someone's political enemy.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rlw895June 15, 2014 - 2:58 am

    If anyone now better understands the risk created by the NSA program, you also better understand why it's a violation of our 4th Amendment protections.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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