IRS: TIGTA Update Part II – Hearing Wrap Up

Published: Jun 25, 2015

TAKEAWAYS:

  • In March 2014, 422 backup tapes most likely containing up to 24,000 Lois Lerner emails were erased. Deputy Inspector General for Investigations, Tim Camus, called this an “unbelievable set of circumstances”.
  • In February 2014, IRS Chief Counsel to the Commissioner, Kate Duvall, learned that there were significant gaps in Lois Lerner’s emails. Yet one month later IRS IT officials erased the backup tapes.
  • Prior to TIGTA’s investigation, the IRS did not search for, review or examine five out of six additional sources that ultimately produced new, previously undisclosed emails.
  • TIGTA is still reviewing emails obtained from the initial set of 735 backup tapes, which could result in the recovery of additional emails not previously produced to Congress, DOJ, or TIGTA.
  • On June 3, 2011, then-Chairman Camp (Ways and Means Committee) sent a letter to the IRS that included questions about targeting conservative groups. Lerner’s hard drive crashed eight days later on June 11, 2011. 

PURPOSE:

  • To focus on the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s (TIGTA) findings with respect to Lois Lerner’s recovered e-mails and to examine the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) response to the congressional investigations on the targeting program.

BACKGROUND:

  • From February 2010 to May 2012, the IRS subjected conservative applicants for tax-exempt status to systematic scrutiny and delays.
  • On May 10, 2013, Lois Lerner, former Director of IRS Exempt Organizations, publicly acknowledged the targeting and apologized.
  • The Committee requested documents and communications from the IRS to assist in its investigation of the targeting program. The IRS did not cooperate voluntarily and two subpoenas were eventually issued—one to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew on August 2, 2013, and the second to then-new IRS Commissioner John Koskinen on February 14, 2014.
  • At a hearing on March 26, 2014, Koskinen testified that all Lerner’s e-mails would be provided to the Committee.
  • Less than three months later, on June 13, 2014, the IRS informed Congress that it had lost or destroyed almost two years’ worth of e-mails to and from Lerner.
  • On November 21, 2014, TIGTA notified congressional investigators that it located approximately 30,000 of Lerner’s “missing” e-mails. Recently, TIGTA informed the Committee it had recovered as many as 80,000 of Lerner’s e-mails, including duplicates, which were found among hundreds of “disaster recovery tapes” that were used to back up the IRS e-mail system.

Key Videos:

Chairman Chaffetz: “When you lie to Congress—when you mislead us—we’re going to hold you accountable.”

Congressman Gowdy:”It sounds like it would be hard to accidentally (erase backup tapes).”