The PJ Tatler

IRS Canceled E-Mail Storage Firm Contract Just Weeks After Lerner Computer Crash

The rabbit hole keeps getting deeper and deeper.

We read earlier in the week that the IRS employed an email storage firm to backup communications at the agency.

The Daily Caller is reporting that the IRS canceled its contract with Sonasoft, an email archiving company, just weeks after it was learned that Lois Lerner’s hard drive had crashed and months before the six other employees targeted in the congressional investigation had their computers crash as well.

The IRS signed a contract with Sonasoft, an email-archiving company based in San Jose, California, each year from 2005 to 2010. The company, which partners with Microsoft and counts The New York Times among its clients, claims in its company slogans that it provides “Email Archiving Done Right” and “Point-Click Recovery.” Sonasoft in 2009 tweeted, “If the IRS uses Sonasoft products to backup their servers why wouldn’t you choose them to protect your severs?”

Sonasoft was providing “automatic data processing” services for the IRS throughout the January 2009 to April 2011 period in which Lerner sent her missing emails.

But Sonasoft’s six-year business relationship with the IRS came to an abrupt end at the close of fiscal year 2011, as congressional investigators began looking into the IRS conservative targeting scandal and IRS employees’ computers started crashing left and right.

Sonasoft’s fiscal year 2011 contract with the IRS ended on August 31, 2011. Eight days later, the IRS officially closed out its relationship with Sonasoft in accordance with the federal government’s contract close-out guidelines, which require agencies to fully audit their contracts and to get back any money that wasn’t used by the contractor. Curiously, the IRS de-allocated 36 cents when it closed out its contract with Sonasoft on September 8, 2011.

Lois Lerner’s computer allegedly crashed in June 2011, just ten days after House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Dave Camp first wrote a letter asking if the IRS was engaging in targeting of nonprofit groups. Two months later, Sonasoft’s contract ended and the IRS gave its email-archiving contractor the boot.

IRS official and frequent White House visitor Nikole Flax allegedly suffered her own computer crash in December 2011, three months after the IRS ended its relationship with Sonasoft.

The obvious question: Is there a link between the cancelling of Sonasoft’s contract and the possible desire of IRS officials to cover up its targeting program?

There are a lot more questions than dots to connect. Was the cancelling of the contract a budget measure, or something more sinister? What happened to the emails Sonosoft archived? Who signed off on the cancellation order?

With all these computer crashes, why didn’t the IRS employ another archiving company? And finally, shouldn’t the relevant congressional committees be talking to Sonasoft managers who dealt with the IRS?

The rabbit hole may, indeed, be getting deeper. But there is little, if any more illumination. If one assumes guilt, “coincidences” like computer crashes, lost emails from targets of investigations, and now the cancellation of the email archiver’s contract in proximity to the loss of those emails may appear to be more ominous than they really are. The possibility that the IRS is telling the truth about everything seems unlikely but must be acknowledged as a possibility.

But any honest observer must concede that the idea that all of these events — all accruing to the benefit of the IRS — are somehow a matter of innocent coincidence strains credulity. The freedom to oppose the government and the party in power without fear of retribution is at stake. It’s time to name a special prosecutor to get to the bottom of this affair.