Tags: Issa | IRS | fear | emails

Issa: IRS Officials Used Private Email to Do Official Business

Monday, 07 Oct 2013 06:10 PM

By Cathy Burke

Top IRS officials repeatedly used private email to do official business, including sending classified documents to non-agency email addresses, U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa says.

Issa, a California Republican and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wrote a letter to IRS Acting Commissioner Daniel Werfel outlining a "troubling pattern" involving at least four senior officials — including now-retired official Lois Lerner, who's at the center of a tea party groups' targeting scandal.

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The Washington Examiner, which broke the story Monday, quoted from a copy of the letter it had obtained.

"This not only raises the prospect of violations of the Federal Records Act, but it also raises data security concerns and violates internal IRS policies," Issa wrote.

Issa wrote that he discovered the unsecure emails while investigating the agency's targeting of tea party and conservative groups during the 2012 election season.

Issa's investigation accuses Lerner of producing more than 1,600 pages of emails and documents housed in a nonofficial email account related to official business, including almost 30 pages of confidential taxpayer information, The Examiner reported.

The cache included a summary of an application for tax-exempt status the IRS instructed Lerner's legal counsel to redact because the information was prohibited from being disclosed, it reported.

Lerner retired in September amid an internal probe of the scandal.

Issa's investigation also showed former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, who stepped down after the November election, also received emails related to official business on a nonofficial email account, The Examiner reported.

Other IRS officials reportedly targeted are Judith Kindell, senior technical adviser of the Exempt Organization Division, and Nikole Flax, chief of staff of the Office of the Commissioner.

"This rampant use of nonofficial email by four IRS officials to conduct official business suggests that such use is a systemic problem throughout the IRS," Issa wrote. "This is also a concern to the committee because federal taxpayer information cannot be shared on nonsecure, nonofficial systems."

Issa has asked Werfel to brief the committee about the handling of emails at the agency, but no spokesperson has commented, The Examiner said, citing the government shutdown.

The Environmental Protection Agency has also come under fire for using private email accounts for official business. The agency's inspector general last month cleared top-level employees of intentionally trying to hide information, saying the problem was a failure to  train employees on properly storing records.

Meanwhile, Issa has warned there's reason for citizens to "fear" the government.

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“Right now, there’s a reason to fear the IRS and other agencies, including the EPA, who are loaded with people who feel empowered to bend the rules against those they disagree with,” he said, The Daily Caller reported Sunday.

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