The Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, is at the center of a ever-swirling controversy that is leaving yet another black mark on the souring presidency of Barrack Obama. In 2012, it came to light that the IRS had been targeting members and supporters of the Tea Party, the extremist right wing off-shoot of the GOP. An investigation was soon underway and the then head of the IRS, Lois Lerner, was removed from her position after admitting that several key emails that could have shown wrongdoing were mysteriously "deleted" when her hard drive crashed.
Much has already been written about the conveniently crashed hard drive, but now the House Oversight and Government Reform committee has begun their investigation under the chair, California Republican Darrell Issa. On Friday, Issa issued a series of 50 technical questions to new IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, and asked that the IRS head have answers before the committee reconvenes on Monday evening. The Washington Post has published those questions, all pertaining to how one of the biggest agencies in the U.S. Government could lose such vital information.
Lerner, who "retired" from her post in 2013, has been found in contempt of Congress, as the former IRS commissioner refuses to testify on the missing emails and crashed hard drive, and had pleaded the fifth amendment several times during the investigation.
Digital information, like emails, are never truly destroyed. And that is what is at the heart of the issue. The electronic storehouse, California-based Sonasoft, that had been contracted by the IRS to back up and store all of the information was let out of the contract weeks after the supposed crash. These events have only led to more questions.
Conservatives, including those targeted by the IRS, contend that the crash is a cover-up, and that the orders came from Obama's White House itself. As the investigation proceeds, with or without the emails, the House Ways and Means Committee hopes to prove that the president knew of the targeting, and at best, allowed it to continue, at worst, ordered it himself.
The IRS scandal could not come at a worse time for the beleaguered Obama, as the crisis in Iraq continues to boil, the ongoing scandal in the Veteran's Administration is still unresolved, and the dumping of thousands of illegal immigrants in downtown Phoenix, Arizona has been attributed to his policies. The president's approval numbers are at their lowest since he took office in January of 2009, and NBC's White House Correspondent, Chuck Todd, has publicly declared Obama's presidency "over."
The investigation into the IRS scandal continues this week.