The IRS sent one of its intrusive scrutiny letters to a nonprofit group in order to throw up a smokescreen and prevent the group from complaining to Congress about poor treatment, according to one of Lois G. Lerner’s apparently lost emails, which were recovered by auditors and released by an interest group Tuesday.
Judicial Watch, which sued to force the production of the Lerner emails, said the emails confirm that Ms. Lerner, the central figure in the targeting probe, and her colleagues were aware of the sensitive nature of the cases but appeared to hide details of the massive backlog they were amassing as they held up hundreds of tea party and conservative group applications for nonprofit status.
The IRS turned over 906 pages of emails July 15 to Judicial Watch, a conservative public interest law firm, ahead of a Wednesday court hearing. Judicial Watch concluded that the emails were part of the messages Ms. Lerner lost in a computer malfunction, and released them Tuesday.
“This material shows that the IRS‘ cover-up began years ago,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch. “We now have smoking-gun proof that top officials in the Obama IRS unlawfully harassed taxpayers just to keep them from complaining to Congress about IRS‘ targeting and abuse. No wonder the Obama IRS has had such little interest in preserving or finding Lois Lerner’s emails.”
The Lerner emails have become almost as big a scandal as the initial targeting. Ms. Lerner, who was head of the division that scrutinized the tea party applications until she retired while under investigation in 2013, suffered a computer hard drive crash that cost potentially thousands of emails that should have been part of the record.