Congress has called on IRS commissioner John Koskinen to answer for the agency’s claims it has lost two years’ worth of email correspondence with officials who targeted conservative groups.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa on Tuesday issued a subpoena to Koskinen saying, “I will not tolerate your continued obstruction and game-playing in response to the committee’s investigation of the IRS targeting.”
The authors of the missing emails include Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the targeting accusations, and six other top IRS employees.
In a March 26 hearing, Koskinen promised to produce all emails needed for the investigation. But the IRS is claiming that during the summer of 2011, Lerner’s computer crashed, resulting in the loss of emails dating back to January 2009.
“Even when the IRS does admit something, they are not fully honest with us,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., and Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., said in a joint statement.
Lawmakers are not the only ones upset at the loss of the emails.
Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), said in a statement, “The Obama administration’s IRS continues to spin an unbelievable tale that is simply absurd.” The ACLJ, which represents 41 organizations audited by the IRS and Lerner, has sent letters to lawmakers and federal agencies requesting that they preserve communications they had with Lerner.
Meanwhile, the non-profit organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sent a letter to the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee requesting an investigation into record-keeping problems across the federal government. CREW officials believe the missing emails are not unique to the IRS.
“The loss of Ms. Lerner’s emails is just another example of deficient government record keeping,” CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said.
Hans von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, is skeptical of the latest claim from the IRS and believes the administration has a responsibility to investigate further. He said that since the IRS has lost the emails, “the White House, Justice Department, and Federal Election Commission must be forced to look through their email records for email correspondence with Lois Lerner.”
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., recognizes the emails as a pivotal part of the investigation because they might show coordination between the IRS and outside agencies. And McConnell blames the Obama administration.
“I doubt we’ve seen the last of the administration’s anti-free speech efforts,” McConnell said.