American Elephants

The IRS Scandal: Is It Only A Big Deal When They Come After You? by The Elephant's Child

Darrell Issa is unconvinced by the explanation from the IRS that after being strung along for more than a year, golly darn it, the IRS had a local hard drive failure which erased records that should have been stored permanently. Nobody else is convinced either. The chairman of the House Oversight Committee has issued a subpoena for IRS Commissioner John Koskinen to testify next week on the whereabouts of the missing two years of Lois Lerner emails.

Lerner is the former IRS official at the heart of the scandal, which just grows and grows as bits of information dribble out.

I’ve heard two IT experts on the radio who say that the emails are easily obtained from the servers on which they are stored and even those are backed up. Each said separately that it would take them about an hour to retrieve the missing emails, and that there is no possibility that they cannot be retrieved.

The IRS now says it cannot produce the emails from six more employees involved in the targeting of conservative groups. Eliana Johnson writes at NRO:

Emails produced in response to a FOIA Act request from Judicial Watch show Nikole Flax, the chief of staff to former commissioner Steven Miller, who was fired in the wake of the scandal, show Flax giving the green light to Lerner’s request to meet with Department of Justice officials to explore the possibility of criminally prosecuting nonprofit groups — at the suggestion of Democratic senator Sheldon Whitehouse — for engaging in political activity after declaring on their application for nonprofit status that they had no plans to do so.

E-mails uncovered by the committee last week showed that, in preparation for her meeting with the Department of Justice, Lerner and one of her advisers transmitted 1.1 million pages of data on nonprofit groups, including confidential taxpayer information, to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, potentially in violation of federal law.     (emphasis added)

John Fund, in a delightful column at National Review, suggests that you can tell when there’s a cover-up in Washington. Start with a passive-aggressive way of acknowledging that there was indeed error, “mistakes were made,” of which the speaker has no knowledge. No one can name the players; the scandal would have been impossible to detect; and any groups who complained were just to dumb to understand the rules.

John Fund also notes that Washington’s political culture is resistant to accountability. Failure is rarely punished and at times is even rewarded. For the rest of us who feel the agency should be flushed out, wrongdoers punished and rules firmly established so it never happens again, the failure to hold the employees who are responsible accountable is the ultimate insult.


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