As many as 30,000 of Lois Lerner’s email messages that were thought to be lost forever have been recovered, officials say. The email documents, which were sought when the IRS was accused of unfairly attacking conservative organizations, were all backed up on disaster recovery disks.
Now, according to the Washington Times, an investigator has informed Congress that he may have found Lerner’s missing email files on disks that cover the time period from 2009 to 2011, when Lois Lerner’s computer lost everything in a hard drive crash. This period of time also covers the years when Tea Party groups claim they were targeted by the IRS unfairly.
Unfortunately, investigators also say that the email data isn’t in a readable form, and it may take weeks to convert the documents and determine what they contain.
Politifact verified in June that the IRS was checking into the activity of numerous groups, both liberal and conservative, and that along with “tea party” and “patriot,” other keywords such as “progressive” were also used to tag groups for further checks before granting tax-exempt status.
Certain political activities can make organizations ineligible for certain tax statuses — for instance, Politico notes, a 501(c)(4) group can endorse issues, but not specific candidates.
In fact, though groups at both ends of the political spectrum were investigated, the only groups who were denied their request for tax exempt status were liberal ones.
Politico spoke with Lois Lerner in September, discussing her role in the matter. It’s noted that she was responsible for increasing the responsibilities delegated to IRS employees, and that she also discontinued the printing of an IRS manual that might have offered guidance on handling nonprofit applications, and that tax lawyers had reached out for guidance numerous times, leaving the Ohio workers feeling betrayed when Lerner placed the blame on them for the misguided screening process.
An ex IRS agent recently decried budget cuts in the agency; Lerner was responsible for a drastic decrease in costs for her division.
It’s also noteworthy that when Lerner became aware of the criteria the Ohio agents were using to flag groups for review, she demanded that it be ceased — but she did not follow up to enforce that, she admits, and the agents did not end the practice.
Friday’s discovery of the missing Lois Lerner email messages is of interest to many across the political spectrum, whether they hope to prove intent to disprove wrongdoing or just to find out what the facts are, but it will likely be some time before there is any real information to release from the documents.
[photo credit: PoliticalActivityLaw.com]