06.24.2014 0

IRS evidence purposefully destroyed? Congress needs to act now

noIRSBy Robert Romano

American Center for Law and Justice’s Jay Sekulow might get to the bottom of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scandal of targeting the tea party and other 501(c)(4) organizations long before the House of Representatives ever does.

Lois Lerner’s emails outside the IRS are missing between January 2009 and April 2011. The agency is claiming her hard drive crashed, that it recycled the backup tapes on its server and that it threw Lerner’s hard drive away after the crash.  Thus, says the agency, it is impossible for the IRS to retrieve email communications that were not internal and backed up on other agency computers.

So, the solution?

Sekulow, who is representing dozens of tea party groups in federal court that were targeted by the agency, promised on Fox News that, “We’ll subpoena every single government agency that Lois Lerner talked to. That’s the FEC, Federal Election Commission, that’s the Department of the Treasury, that’s [going to] be the Department of Justice, and others.”

Not a bad idea. After all, as Americans for Limited Government president Nathan Mehrens noted in a statement on June 19, “The IRS may not have followed the requirements of the Federal Records Act, but it is unimaginable that every federal entity would be so negligent, or corrupt, as the case may be. Any emails to or from her should still be on those servers.”

With that in mind, Mehrens urged House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Ind.) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) to subpoena every federal department, agency, and office that former IRS Exempt Organizations head Lois Lerner might have sent an email to or received one from.

“The search must now branch outside the IRS. The House should subpoena every single federal department, agency, and office Lerner might have emailed or received an email from, including the White House,” Mehrens said.

Yet, to date, the only visible follow up by House committees on the missing Lerner emails — so far — has been to hold more hearings and to subpoena Lerner’s hard drive. No new subpoenas have been issued for the Lerner emails that might be on other federal email servers.

Where’s the urgency? After all, Issa believes there may well have been a cover up. He suggested that destruction of Lerner’s hard drive “proof that their whole line about ‘losing’ e-mails in the targeting scandal was just one more attempted deception.”

If so, why isn’t the House doing what Sekulow is doing and broadening its subpoenas to agencies outside the IRS?

Further, at this stage, if they believe evidence is being destroyed on purpose, that’s an emergency. It would be reasonable for the House Committees or the House itself via resolution to go to federal court to enforce said subpoenas and secure whatever evidence remains — like yesterday.

It is telling when groups like Sekulow’s are moving much faster than one of the preeminent legislative bodies in the world to get to the bottom of this scandal. What’s the hold up?

Time is of the essence, particularly if House members believe evidence is being destroyed. The proof point will be if other agencies and federal offices Lerner was in touch with similarly have “lost” all of her emails. That would point to a concerted cover-up by the Obama administration to put the lid on this, which would be a violation of multiple federal laws.

But we may never know unless this investigation is broadened and gotten into the courts immediately. Holding hearings and requesting documents is fine in the normal course of Congressional oversight, but not in the face of outright obstruction.

Recall it took an order from the Supreme Court to produce the Nixon White House tapes. And that may be what it takes to unearth the missing Lerner emails and any other evidence that might currently be withheld from Congress.

Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government. 

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