House Ways and Means Commitee chairman Dave Camp has hit a roadblock in his investigation of the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups: The IRS says it has lost over two years’ worth of e-mails sent by former agency official Lois Lerner, perhaps the central figure in the committee’s investigation.
Camp is calling for an investigation into the matter and for the the Department of Justice and Treasury Department’s inspector general to conduct forensic audits.
“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’s response to congressional inquiries,” Camp said in a statement.
The agency informed Camp that a computer crash Lerner’s agency-issued laptop resulted in the loss of e-mails sent between Lerner and outside agencies such as the White House and the Department of Justice between January 2009 and April 2011. Those messages are particularly relevant given revelations earlier this week that the agency in 2010 transmitted a database to the FBI containing confidential taxpayer information, potentially in violation of federal law.
The IRS said in a separate statement that it has or will produce 24,000 e-mails from the period between 2009 and 2011 using the files of 82 individuals with whom Lerner corresponded, and that it has produced nearly all of the 67,000 e-mails sent and received by Lerner during her time at the agency.
That did not assuage camp’s concerns. “These are the critical years of the targeting of conservative groups that could explain who knew what when, and what, if any, coordination there was between agencies,” he said. “Instead, because of this loss of documents, we are conveniently left to believe that Lois Lerner acted alone.” He called on the White House to conduct an administration-wide search and production of e-mails sent or received by Lerner.