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Oversight Chairman Says IRS Is "Dilatory, "Obstructionist;" Subpoenas IRS Commissioner To Testify, Bring Documentation...

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)---- investigatio...
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)---- investigations coming for obama (Photo credit: SS&SS)

The Chairman of the House Committee On Oversight and Government Reform, Darrell Issa,  says the IRS is "Dilatory," (causing delays) and "Obstructionist."  Issa said in a letter to the IRS Commissioner:

"...The failure of you and your predecessors to take timely steps to prevent the loss or destruction of electronic records may impair the effort to fully understand how and why the IRS inappropriately targeted conservative applicants for tax-exempt status. This revelation is merely the most recent in a series of actions that have delayed the Committee's investigation. Due to the IRS's continued dilatory and obstructionist actions, I am issuing the enclosed subpoena compelling your testimony at a hearing of the Committee..."

Issa's response came on the heels of the IRS's notification to Congress that a key figure in the Oversight Committee's investigation of the political targeting of conservatives by the IRS, Lois Lerner, had "lost" emails pertinent to the investigation because of a computer glitch.  Said Issa:

"...I was astounded and disappointed to learn on Friday that the Internal Revenue Service has lost a substantial portion of e-emails sent or received by former IRS official Lois Lerner from January 2009 to April 2011. For over a year, the [Oversight] Committee has sought all of Ms. Lerner's e-mails from the IRS. Because of the IRS's obstruction, I have issued two subpoenas compelling the production of documents, including all of Ms. Lerner's e-mails from the applicable period..."

Issa reminds the IRS Commissioner:

"...Indeed, you testified--under oath--during a Committee hearing in March 2014 that you would produce all of Ms. Lerner's e-mails subpoenaed by the Committee...By the IRS's admission, an unknown number of federal records were permanently lost or destroyed when Ms. Lerner's computer crashed in mid-2011...Congress passed the Federal Records Act (FRA) to preserve key documents--such as those that were stored on Lerner's hard drive--for production to congressional investigators and other stakeholders, including historians and FOIA requesters. The FRA requires agencies to make and preserve records of agency decisions, policies, and essential transactions, and to take steps to safeguard against the loss of agency records..."

According to Issa "...The Federal Records Act places the burden on the 'head of each federal agency' to 'establish safeguards against the removal or loss' of federal records.

Issa tells the IRS Commissioner:

"...Clearly, former Commissioner Douglas Shulman did not do so.  The Federal Records Act also requires the IRS Commissioner to notify the Archivist of the United States if there is reason to suspect that the records in question were unlawfully destroyed.  It is not clear whether former Commissioner Shulman or any of his successors, including you, have taken that step with respect to the documents stored on Ms. Lerner's hard drive..."

Issa's language in the letter clearly describes the possibility of willful deception and disguise by the IRS, and/or, at best, flagrant incompetence when he states:

"...By failing to establish a recordkeeping system that could have withstood the failure of Lerner's hard drive, Commissiner Shulman also failed to comply with guidance from the Office of Management and Budget, and the IRS's own internal regulations. OMB requires federal agencies to maintain electronic records, including e-mails, in an enterprise-wide managemen system.  Clearly, IRS did not.  The contents of Ms. Lerner's hard drive apparently were not backed up anywhere.  Furthermore, IRS's own Standards for Managing Electronic Mail Records require that 'IRS' offices will not store the official recordkeeping copy of e-mail messages that are federal records ONLY on the electronic mail system...'  IRS's internal guidelines also required 'IRS offices that maintain their e-mail records electronically [to] move or copy them to a separate electronic recordkeeping system...'  IRS did not do so with respect to Lerner's hard drive..."

On tuesday, Chairman Issa also subpoenaed the IRS Commissioner for documents related to the email loss, "...Lerner's hard drive and electronic devices, as well as documents connected to the IRS's response to Congress..." According to a statement from the Ovesight Committee Issa told the IRS Commissioner:

"...After a year of beating down efforts by the Obama Administration and its allies to obstruct an investigation into targeting, the IRS now says it lost perhaps the most critical evidence...When Commissioner Koskinen testified before the Committee in February, he made no mention of this.  It was only earlier this month, during an interview with a Justice Department official, that the Oversight Committee learned about the existence of subpoenaed 2010 Lerner e-mails that the IRS had not produced.  While this apparently forced the IRS to cough up an admission, we still do not have answers about how and why the IRS tried to deceive Congress about these missing e-mails. This subpoena seeks those answers..."

The statement details the requested items:

  •         All back-up tapes, external drives, thumb drives, or other storage media the IRS used to capture, archive, back up, or otherwise record e-mails sent or received by Lois Lerner from January 1, 2009, to September 23, 2013.
  •         All hard drives, external drives, thumb drives, and computers Lois G. Lerner used from January 1, 2009, to September 23, 2013.
  •         All electronic communication devices the IRS issued to Lois G. Lerner from January 1, 2009, to September 23, 2013.
  •         All electronic files, including, but not limited to, .pst files, relating to the IRS e-mail account Lois G. Lerner used from January 1, 2009, to September 23, 2013.
  •         All documents and communications that Lois G. Lerner printed and/or stored for Federal Records Act compliance purposes from January 1, 2009 to September 23, 2013.
  •         All documents and communications referring or relating to the production to any congressional committee or Member of Congress of e-mail communications sent or received by Lois G. Lerner from January 1, 2009, to August 2, 2013.
  •         All documents and communications referring or relating to the creation of “Enclosure 3” from the June 13, 2014 letter from Leonard Oursler to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch, entitled “Description of IRS Email Collection and Production” (enclosed herein).
  •         All documents and communications between or among IRS employees and employees of any Executive Branch entity referring or relating to the IRS’s production of documents to Congress from May 10, 2013, to the present.
  •         All documents and communications referring or relating to the subpoena issued by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew on August 2, 2013.
  •         All documents and communications referring or relating to the subpoena issued by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen on February 14, 2014.

Issa in his letter to Koskinen said:

"...I will not tolerate your continued obstruction and game-playing in response to the Committee's investigation on the IRS targeting.  For too long, the IRS has promised to produce requested--and, later, subpoenaed--documents, only to respond later with excuses and inaction.  Despite your empty promises and broken commitments to cooperation, the IRS still insists on flouting Constitutional congressional oversight..."

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