Watchdog: IRS Obstructed Congress When It Lost Lois Lerner’s Emails
New evidence about Lois Lerner’s missing emails suggests IRS acted in “bad faith,” and that there may have been White House involvement.
Cause of Action, a watchdog group that is investigating embattled former IRS official Lois Lerner, believes that there’s strong evidence proving the tax agency has obstructed Congress by losing Lerner’s emails and has suggested steps to get to the bottom of the situation.
According to a statement released to The Daily Caller by Cause of Action, the government watchdog group believes that there is evidence suggesting the IRS acted in “bad faith” in the case of the missing emails and that there might’ve been involvement with the White House in this action.
Cause of Action filed a FOIA request — along with Tea Party Patriots — seeking answers as to whether the IRS broke the law when it lost Lerner’s emails on June 24.
Dan Epstein, executive director for Cause of Action, outlined how this is the case in an interview with TheDC where he stated that the day (June 3, 2011) when Rep. Dave Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, sent a letter to the IRS asking questions about the targeting of conservative groups is the date where the investigation began and when the IRS should’ve been well prepared for preserving Lerner’s hard drive.
“It’s very clear that this is obstruction of Congress,” Epstein told TheDC. “The IRS on June 3, 2011 became on notice that there was a congressional investigation, which automatically means that there is a duty to preserve documents.”
“There should’ve been copies of Lois Lerner’s hard drive and there should’ve been other practices to make sure all of her emails and documents were preserved,” Epstein continued. “It’s very clear from the record that there was no such hold of Lois Lerner’s documents at the time that Congressman Camp sent that June 3, 2011 letter.”
“There should be an inference of bad faith — they [Congress] can say that this was a bad faith loss of records, it was actually destruction, it was actually intentional.”
Epstein believes that the next three steps of the investigation should be to: “investigate the possibility of spoliation of evidence;” “conduct oversight over the Archivist of the National Archives and Records Administration to determine whether he consulted the Attorney General concerning the missing IRS emails, determine whether he signed off on records dispositions by the White House, and determine whether he believes the Directive conflicts with the Federal Records Act and, if not, whether it authorizes the IRS’s activities;” and “conduct oversight over the White House to determine whether it disposed of any responsive records.”
He believes these steps are essential in making sure the truth comes to light in this case.
Epstein explained what his group’s interest in this case stems from, and why it has zeroed in on Lerner’s missing emails.
“What our main focus with the IRS has been the lawsuits that we’ve filed to try to understand whether the IRS has been leaking and making unauthorized disclosures of tax-return information and donor information to the White House, and really to try to understand the White House’s involvement,” Epstein said.
“We’ve jumped on to that issue — not from the perspective of looking at politicization per se — but really trying to understand practically what it means both legally and politically that these emails were lost and what are the implications for congressional oversight,” Epstein continued.
The lawyer also hit back at the claim from Lois Lerner’s attorney that the investigation into his client is merely “election year politics.”
“It is part of their [the committees investigating Lerner] statutory duty, and their duty on behalf of the American population, to look into these issues,” Epstein replied.