Judicial Watch has released new emails that show that in early 2013, IRS official Lois Lerner was at the center of a scramble to find a key “missing” email from 2010.
The missing email was said to be a request for IRS tax-exempt officials to route all Tea Party group applications to a special group for extra review. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) official Troy Patterson sought the email during the office’s investigation of the IRS abuse of Tea Party groups. Lerner’s group apparently ignored his request, despite the fact that they had acknowledged the email’s existence.
While Lerner’s group failed to provide the email in question to TIGTA, they discussed it among themselves. Judicial Watch’s investigation turned up that discussion.
Beginning in late March (2013), the hunt for the missing email directing the targeting of Tea Party applications resulted in a frenzied internal IRS email exchange, including the following:
- March 25, 2013 – 1:35 PM – Lois Lerner to Holly Paz:
Troy said he did reach out to the name you gave him to see if they could find the email, but got no response. Can you give me whatever info I gave you so I can kick some butt wherever it needs kicking!
- March 25, 2013 – 2:38 PM – Lois Lerner to Nikole Flax (then-Chief of Staff to then-Acting IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller):
He [apparently Troy Paterson] said they contacted the person, but no one ever responded. I will get the contact we gave him from Holly. I personally reached out to them to tell them TIGTA was coming and asked for the right person to help. Once I get the name, perhaps someone can ask them to respond to TIGTA? We shoot ourselves in our own foot!
- March 25, 2013 – 2:57 PM – Lois Lerner to Nikole Flax:
In our response, based on what we were able to find out from staff, we told them that in 2010, someone in Determs [Determinations] sent out an informal email to all Determs folks asking them to forward all “Tea Party” applications to another specialist. TIGTA asked for a copy of the email. We asked everyone in Determs to check their email to find it – no one could find a copy … In any event, apparently, no one responded to Troy’s request.
- March 26, 2013 – 11:07 AM – Lois Lerner to Nikole Flax:
I’ll send the draft – don’t freak out because we had a good talk and I believe there will be another draft to comment on – we had a higher up guy this time. As to information we can’t provide – I’d rather they do the IT route –the investigatory route means they’d go out and question staff, who are already freaked.
After claiming that she was trying to track down a copy of the missing email, Lerner later denied it existed. In an April 2, 2013, email to Paterson and Assistant Inspector General Gregory Kutz, previously released by Judicial Watch, Lerner wrote:
So, following our conversation last week, we again searched our records and spoke to EO Rulings & Agreements employees about the May 2010 e-mail regarding the pre-BOLO [Be On the Look Out] criteria, and the issue of who approved the criteria. We now believe that there was not a May 2010 e-mail sent to all Determinations personnel directing them to coordinate these cases with group 7825.
If the May 2010 email sought by the Treasury Inspector General exists, as Lerner acknowledged in her March 25, 2010, email to Flax, it could now be among those the IRS claims were lost when Lerner’s hard drive was destroyed.
The newly released emails show that IRS headquarters in Washington was aware of the targeting. Lerner claimed that it had been conducted by “rogue” agents in the Cincinnati office.
Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton says “This extraordinary series of emails further confirms, contrary to statements by President Obama, that the Tea Party suppression effort was run out the IRS headquarters in Washington, DC. And it raises more disturbing questions about smoking gun IRS evidence disappearing and a cover-up that goes back to at least 2013. At this point, our FOIA lawsuit seems the best vehicle to get to the bottom of this IRS scandal.”