Tags: IRS Scandal | Fournier | IRS | Lerner | emails

Fournier: Let Special Prosecutor Look for Lerner's Emails

Monday, 16 Jun 2014 02:03 PM

By Melissa Clyne


Since the Internal Revenue Service can't locate many of  former supervisor Lois Lerner's emails, the Obama administration should give someone else a chance: a special prosecutor, the National Journal's Ron Fournier wrote.

"The White House is stonewalling the IRS investigation," Fournier wrote. "The most benign explanation is that Obama's team is politically expedient and arrogant, which makes them desperate to change the subject and convinced of their institutional innocence. That's bad enough. But without a fiercely independent investigation, we shouldn't assume the explanation is benign."

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Last year, the IRS acknowledged applying additional scrutiny to political groups requesting tax-exempt status. Groups with the terms such as "tea party" and "patriots" in their titles received closer scrutiny and their approval process was "slow-walked … limiting their ability to participate in the 2010 and 2012 political campaigns," according to a May commentary in USA Today.

Numerous investigations rose out of the claims, including one by the Justice Department, which assigned an attorney who donated to President Barack Obama's campaigns to lead the case. The Justice Department declined to bring criminal charges, leading lawyers for many of the targeted groups to complain they were never contacted during the investigation.

Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to testify before Congress about the scandal. She resigned her IRS post.

On Friday, the IRS informed Congress that a computer crash made it impossible to recover emails sent or received by Lerner — who headed the IRS division that processed applications for tax-exempt status — to anyone outside the agency, The Associated Press reported.

The news incensed House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican.

"The fact that I am just learning about this, over a year into the investigation, is completely unacceptable and now calls into question the credibility of the IRS' response to congressional inquiries," he said. "There needs to be an immediate investigation and forensic audit by Department of Justice as well as the inspector general."

Fournier characterized the decision to make the announcement of the lost emails on a Friday a "too-cute-by-half cliche of a PR strategy to mitigate backlash."

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