A government watchdog says critical evidence, including emails, in the investigation of former Internal Revenue Service employee Lois Lerner and the IRS targeting scandal was destroyed. The Treasury Inspector General says some 422 backup tapes were erased and 24,000 emails lost around March 4, 2014. That watchdog said the destruction was not intentional.
Destroying the backup tapes occurred despite a preservation order issued 10 months earlier designed to prevent such a loss of evidence. The destruction of evidence also occurred about three weeks before IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testified on Capitol Hill that he would provide documents to Congress.
The Treasury Inspector General, J. Russell George, has been investigating allegations that the IRS targeted conservative groups and Tea Party organizations for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax exempt status during the 2010 and 2012 elections. George and Deputy Inspector General Timothy Camus are testifying Thursday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the Lerner emails today according to written testimony. The IRS has maintained that the hard drive on Lerner’s computer was destroyed and no information was available as a result
However, the IRS didn’t investigate other sources, such as Lerner’s Blackberry or laptops. “One of the things we're going to hear from the Inspector General today is that 5 of the 6 sources where they could find this e-mail the IRS didn't even look. And yet we have heard multiple testimonies from the IRS Commissioner saying 'we're working so hard, we've got all these people, we're spending millions of dollars, we're taking all these resources.' They didn't even look in the most obvious places - like her phone,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Committee Chairman.