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IRS emails: Loss of emails from Lois Lerner, tea party scandal yields skeptics

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An IRS emails debate has been sparked this week after it was discovered that a mass of emails sent to and from Lois Lerner, a prominent figure at the time of the so-called tea party scandal, have been irrevocably “lost.” The Obama administration is claiming that the emails and subsequent files were gone for good when a hard drive crashed, but the loss has yielded some major skeptics. The Washington Post reveals this Monday, June 23, 2014, that the wrench being thrown into this excuse is that the agency has a well-known contract with a reliable company that saves storage files, Sonasoft.

As part of a House congressional examination into the alleged tea party scandal, officials recently asked for a comprehensive list of emails involving Lois Lerner. According to the report, the IRS emails were those ranging from 2009 to 2011, at a time when “the IRS division was led by Lerner … which began targeting the Tea Party and other conservative nonprofits applying for tax-exempt profits” at a higher level of scrutiny.

The loss of these files has thus led to a storm of backlash and skepticism regarding a simple (albeit massive) hard drive crash in June 2011. It is known that Sonasoft, a file-storage company and described email saver, had an ongoing business contract with the IRS until at least 2009. As cited in a post via Twitter from Sonasoft, the company was proud to have American government officials using their technology to protect information on their servers.

That same year, the company tweeted: “The IRS uses Sonasoft to back up their servers, why wouldn’t you choose them to protect your servers?”

Now, the political drama surrounding the IRS and the loss of these important files has made it to a formal US hearing. Fox News reports that the tea party scandal has been summoned back into the spotlight with these key IRS emails being “lost,” particularly those sent to and from previous official Lois Lerner.

Darrell Issa, the Chairman of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is now questioning IRS Commissioner John Koskinen about what really happened with the missing emails. In response to the absent records, Issa personally requested the chief of the US agency to answer over 50 individual technological questions connected to the lost revenue service emails. A follow-up hearing pending Koskinen’s testimony is scheduled this week.

For his part, Koskinen has not said that the IRS was at fault for the loss of Lois Lerner’s files, including those that may have included any information about the alleged tea party scandal. The commissioner said that the missing records was simply due to “technical glitches,” though this response, too, has garnered its fair share of skeptics.

According to the press release, the IRS claimed it lost all emails after Lerner’s hard drive suddenly crashed back in 2011. The computer was then destroyed — as per protocol — when an attempt to recover the information failed. It was said that both IRS forensic specialists and IT technicians were unable to get the lost files back.

The investigative panel is saying that the agency should have been much more open and direct about the loss of the IRS emails. Congress was only told about the matter in mid-June, despite the Treasury Department hearing of the issue several months prior. As one political official said:

“You say that you’ve lost the e-mails, but what you’ve lost is all credibility,” said Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), who is leading the panel.

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