IRS deliberately hid internal communications from investigators

  • 29 July 2015
  • NormanL
IRS deliberately hid internal communications from investigators

Remember the Lois Lerner scandal at the IRS? You remember: the one where the tax agency swore it looked high and low for her "missing" emails relating to targeting of liberty and tea party groups...and couldn't find a thing (until it did)? Turns out the story is getting even worse:

The IRS used a “wholly separate” instant messaging system that automatically deleted office communications, according to documentation released by the House Oversight Committee on Monday. The system appears to have been purposefully used by agency officials responsible for the targeting of conservative non-profits, in order to evade public scrutiny.

The system, known as “Office Communication Server” or OCS was used by IRS officials, including many in the Exempt Organizations (EO) Unit, which was headed by Lois Lerner.

As the Oversight Committee report states, the instant messaging system did not archive any communications, so it is not possible to know what employees of the EO unit discussed on it.

However, in an email uncovered by the Committee Lerner warns her colleagues about evading Congressional oversight:

“I was cautioning folks about email and how we have had several occasions where congress">Congress has asked for emails and there has been an electronic search for responsive emails – so we need to be cautious about what we say in emails.”

Lerner then asks whether OCS is automatically archived. When informed it was not, Lerner responded “Perfect.”

"Perfect," indeed.

No one has been held accountable for any of this...yet. republicans">Republicans on the House Oversight Committee have called on President Obama to fire IRS Commissioner John Koskinen "for obstructing the investigation into the tax agency’s targeting of conservative groups." 

If the president refuses, Chairman Jason Chaffetz warned, the committee will actively pursue contempt charges and an impeachment proceeding to remove Mr. Koskinen, who he said gave assurances the IRS would save email key to the investigation at the same time the emails were being destroyed.

We strongly doubt Mr. Obama will ask John Koskinen to resign. If anything, House democrats">Democrats on the Oversight panel will continue to run interference for Koskinen and try to run out the clock on the whole affair.

That's politics -- it looks bad and smells worse. 

The real question is whether the GOP is intent on pursuing Koskinen -- and Lerner -- or if this is just more theater for the masses.