The government watchdog for the IRS has found 30,000 emails relevant to the congressional inquiry into IRS targeting of conservative groups, according to the Wall Street Journal. The emails were either to or from Lois Lerner, who was in charge of the IRS division that processed applications for tax exempt status.
In congressional hearings Lois Lerner had to plead the fifth, refusing to testify based on her right to avoid self-incrimination, although she claimed to have done nothing wrong or illegal. She later resigned from the IRS, but the investigation over targeting conservative groups has been ongoing.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, the government organization that audits the IRS, have now told Congress that they have recovered 30,000 emails off of Lerner’s computer. Originally, she claimed that the computer had crashed in 2011, and there was no way to get the emails back, but it turns out that may have been overly pessimistic.
The investigators claim that the emails could be relevant to the investigation, though they have not specified anything further.
According to CNBC, a spokeswoman for the investigators refused to comment, saying that the investigation was still underway. A congressional aid said that it could take weeks for the emails to even be ready to examine. Investigators will have to decrypt the emails and remove sensitive tax payer information.
Once the emails are ready, they might provide the piece of evidence Congressional Republicans have been looking for: proof of a political motive.
A report that came out in May of 2013 said that the IRS handling of certain groups was needlessly burdensome. Some liberal groups were given similar treatment, but Congressional Republicans claim that conservative groups got the worst of it.
The IRS has admitted that the tax exempt status application processing for some groups was handled inappropriately, but there has been no evidence that anyone outside the IRS was involved.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the IRS targeted conservative groups promoting more stringent voter ID laws, an issue the Justice Department has been particularly active in fighting. One group in particular, the Texas-based True the Vote, lost a lawsuit against the IRS for its burdensome handling of their tax-exempt status application. The judge in the case ruled that since the IRS has already corrected the problem, there was nothing the court could do.
The case also revealed that the IRS suspected the group of political campaigning, which is illegal for the purposes of their tax status because of anti-Democratic party rhetoric found on the group’s website. This means that the IRS may not have had a political motive, but was inappropriately handling a potential fraud case.
In any case, the emails may soon bring new life to the IRS investigation, and make future lawsuits a little more interesting.
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