Posts Tagged ‘IRS.Scandal’

Judge Sullivan Not Impressed by the “Dog Ate my Homework” Excuse

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the IRS for information on the targeting of conservative groups. When the FOIA request went nowhere, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against the IRS. In July, Judge Emmet Sullivan required the IRS to issue a written response (due last week) on what happened. The IRS response was insufficient for Judge Sullivan:

MINUTE ORDER. In light of [26] the Declarations filed by the IRS, the IRS is hereby ORDERED to file a sworn Declaration, by an official with the authority to speak under oath for the Agency, by no later than August 22, 2014.

In this Declaration, the IRS must:

(1) provide information about its efforts, if any, to recover missing Lois Lerner emails from alternate sources (i.e., Blackberry, iPhone, iPad);

(2) provide additional information explaining the IRS’s policy of tracking inventory through use of bar code property tags, including whether component parts, such as hard drives, receive a bar code tag when serviced. If individual components do not receive a bar code tag, provide information on how the IRS tracks component parts, such as hard drives, when being serviced;

(3) provide information about the IRS’s policy to degauss hard drives, including whether the IRS records whose hard drive is degaussed, either by tracking the employee’s name or the particular machine with which the hard drive was associated; and

(4) provide information about the outside vendor who can verify the IRS’s destruction policies concerning hard drives.

Signed by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan on August 14, 2014. [paragraphing added for ease of reading]

The Hill noted,

Tom Fitton, Judicial Watch’s president, celebrated Sullivan’s new order, saying it proved the government had offered little in their filings on Monday.

“Today’s order confirms Judicial Watch’s read of this week’s IRS’ filings that treated as a joke Judge Sullivan’s order,” Fitton said in a statement.

In a statement to The Hill, Fitton later called Sullivan’s order “an incredible court intervention.”

“Judicial Watch has filed hundreds of FOIA lawsuits,” Fitton said.” I have never seen this type of court action in all my 16 years at Judicial Watch.”

We’ll see what response the IRS comes up with this week….

Perhaps the Lerner Emails Still Exist (IRS Scandal Update)

Saturday, July 26th, 2014

There has been plenty of news regarding the IRS scandal. The most interesting is that IRS managers testified that it’s possible that Lois Lerner’s emails still exist.

The Washington Post published an article on six questions that IT managers believe should be asked of the IRS.

An IRS manager noted that other employees who are related to the scandal suffered hard drive failures, too. Really?

Finally, Kim Strassel has an excellent piece in the Wall Street Journal on the IRS scandal and ObamaCare. Here’s an excerpt:

Yet rather than engage in a basic legal analysis—a core duty of an agency charged with tax laws—the IRS instead set about obtaining cover for its predetermined political goal. A March 27, 2011, email has IRS employees asking HHS political hires to cover the tax agency’s backside by issuing its own rule deeming HHS-run exchanges to be state-run exchanges. HHS did so in July 2011. One month later the IRS rushed out its own rule—providing subsidies for all.

That proposed rule was criticized by dozens of scholars and congressional members, all telling the IRS it had a big legal problem. Yet again, the IRS did no legal analysis. It instead brought in a former aide to Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett, whose job appeared to be to gin up an after-the-fact defense of the IRS’s actions. The agency formalized its rule in May 2012.

I have no doubt that this scandal will be unresolved when I return from my vacation.

Judge to IRS: Explain the Lost Emails Under Oath

Friday, July 11th, 2014

From the AP:

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan gave the tax agency a month to submit the explanation in writing. Sullivan said he is also appointing a federal magistrate to see whether the lost emails can be obtained from other sources.

Sullivan issued the order as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group. He said the IRS declaration must be signed, under oath, by the appropriate IRS official.

The IRS will be in front of a different federal judge today getting to explain the lost emails in response to the lawsuit from True the Vote.

The report back to Judge Sullivan is due by August 10th–a strict deadline. The federal magistrate’s report is due by September 9th.

Deliberately Not Following the Rules Would Get Me in Trouble, But Not Ms. Lerner

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

The IRS scandal continues to percolate. Yesterday and today we discover that Lois Lerner may have printed out some of her emails. And that she deliberately used an instant messaging system so that her communications wouldn’t be discovered.

President Obama, do you still believe there’s not a smidgen of corruption?

IRS Didn’t Tell a Court About the Missing Lerner Emails

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

Eventually, we will know exactly what happened with the IRS scandal. For now, little pieces continue to drip out. One of the most recent concerns the missing Lois Lerner emails.

I had forgotten that Judicial Watch had filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the IRS demanding all communications regarding the IRS’s review of 501(c)(4) applications, and related matters. The IRS has been slowly releasing some emails and documents to Judicial Watch.

But the IRS forgot to mention that Lois Lerner’s emails have gone to the ether in any of the status conferences held on the case since they allegedly vanished. The IRS knew in February of the loss, but didn’t bother to mention it in any of the status conferences (including the February conference). While doing that once could be an oversight, it’s apparently been three times. Judge Emmett Sullivan of the US District Court for the District of Columbia will get to hear the IRS’s excuse reasoning on July 10th. Pass the popcorn….

Lerner Appears to Have Targeted Iowa Senator Grassley

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

In the IRS scandal news of the day, we learned today that Lois Lerner apparently targeted Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and his wife for an audit. In an email, Lois Lerner wrote,

Is this the one where we got the copy to Grassley? Did he get one to me?
Looked like they were inappropriately offering to pay for his wife. Perhaps we should refer to Exam?

Of course, there’s nothing to see there. Nor is there anything to see here:

The Daily Signal has learned that, under a consent judgment today, the IRS agreed to pay $50,000 in damages to the National Organization for Marriage as a result of the unlawful release of the confidential information to a gay rights group, the Human Rights Campaign, that is NOM’s chief political rival.

“Congress made the disclosure of confidential tax return information a serious matter for a reason,” NOM Chairman John D. Eastman told The Daily Signal. “We’re delighted that the IRS has now been held accountable for the illegal disclosure of our list of major donors from our tax return.”

Yeah, there’s not even a smidgen of corruption (not). Of course, President Obama said earlier this year just that–that there is not even a smidgen of corruption:

Of course, we’re going to find out quickly how that DOJ investigation is going. Uh, the DOJ isn’t investigating the clear violation of the law of the leaking of the donor list of NOM. Well how about the DOJ investigation of the IRS scandal? My reply is simple: What investigation? There hasn’t appeared to be one from day one.

Yes, there’s nothing to see here:

Koskinen Channels His Inner Nixon

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Those of us who are old enough remember this:

That is the late President Nixon who stated he was not a crook.

Well, last night we had part two of Koskinen Goes to Capitol Hill. He was in front of Darrell Issa’s committee. There were two very interesting exchanges. First, we have Congressman Jim Jordan’s exchange:

There isn’t much to add to that exchange.

Next, here’s Congressman Trey Gowdy’s exchange:

Another point that came out is that the IRS apparently hasn’t looked at the backup tapes (which may or may not still exist). Commissioner Koskinen couldn’t say why that didn’t happen.

At least he wasn’t as smug as he had been. Of course, it came out yesterday that Commissioner Koskinen has been a big donor to the Democrats….

The IRS continues to look hyper-partisan, and that’s not a good thing for anyone.


This morning we discover that the IRS broke did not follow the law:

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Backups

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

The IRS scandal continues to be the big issue. And lots more news came out over the weekend.

First, it turns out the IRS had a contract with an email backup company, Sonasoft; their motto is “Email Archiving Done Right.” But weeks after Lois Lerner’s alleged computer crash the IRS cancelled the contract.

Meanwhile PowerLine Blog has been noting that the IRS was required to archive their emails, and this was even noted in the IRS’s Manual on Managing Electronic Records (part of the Internal Revenue Manual).

On Monday, Darrell Issa’s committee will hold another hearing on the scandal. I don’t know if Commissioner Koskinen will be as arrogant as he was on Friday (see the post immediately below), but here are some questions I’d like to see asked and some actions I’d like the committee to do:

1. Commissioner Koskinen, does the IRS follow the federal law on recordkeeping? Are you aware that most emails–and certainly all interagency emails–must be archived under this policy?

2. Are all email servers backed up (archived) regularly? Was this policy in place in 2011? In 2009? Has a search been made of these archives?

3. Are there any other hard drives that have failed that relate to this investigation (besides the seven you’ve let the committee know of in the last week)?

I’d also like to see the committee subpoena as many people as they can find in the IRS IT Department and ask them, under oath, about these issues. I’d like the committee to issue a subpoena to the Federal Election Commission to obtain their email archives; to the White House to obtain their email archives; and to the Department of Justice to see theirs. (This would be all emails from 2009-2013 to or from Lois Lerner and related principals.)

Many of my Democratic friends think this scandal is a whole lot of nothing. It is possible it’s close to that but we have no way of knowing thanks to either the IRS’s deliberate obstruction or their incredible idiocy. It has exposed the IRS as an agency whose leadership has its head in the sand, that is arrogant beyond belief, and that expects honest taxpayers to keep everything for years but won’t follow the rules themselves. Congressman Ryan didn’t believe Commissioner Koskinen on Friday. Neither do I.

“I Don’t Think an Apology Is Owed”

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Congressman Paul Ryan is annoyed.

There is not much to add to what Congressman Ryan said today. For those who didn’t watch today’s hearing, FoxNews has an accurate summary:

Koskinen set a defiant tone during his testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee, telling lawmakers he felt no need for the agency to apologize amid accusations of a cover-up in the targeting scandal of conservative groups.

Republican lawmakers had demanded the emails between ex-IRS official Lois Lerner and other government officials – including some at the White House – be turned over to determine whether there was a coordinated effort to stymie conservative groups prior to the 2012 elections.

“I don’t think an apology is owed,” Koskinen said. “We haven’t lost an email since the start of this investigation.”

How nice–no emails were lost since the start of this investigation. It’s a shame so many were lost two years before it began when former IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman was lying misleading Congress about the IRS’s policies toward 501(c)(4) groups.

Of course, if I tried what the IRS is trying–the “my dog ate the receipts” excuse–I’d be laughed out of any audit or Tax Court. Well, possibly not in the future:

WASHINGTON — Taxpayers who do not produce documents for the Internal Revenue Service will be able to offer a variety of dubious excuses under legislation introduced by Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX 36) a week after the IRS offered an incredibly dubious excuse for its failure to turn documents over to House investigators.

“The United States was founded on the belief government is subservient and accountable to the people. Taxpayers shouldn’t be expected to follow laws the Obama administration refuses to follow themselves,” said Stockman. “Taxpayers should be allowed to offer the same flimsy, obviously made-up excuses the Obama administration uses.”

Under Stockman’s bill, “The Dog Ate My Tax Receipts Act,” taxpayers who do not provide documents requested by the IRS can claim one of the following reasons:

1. The dog ate my tax receipts
2. Convenient, unexplained, miscellaneous computer malfunction
3. Traded documents for five terrorists
4. Burned for warmth while lost in the Yukon
5. Left on table in Hillary’s Book Room
6. Received water damage in the trunk of Ted Kennedy’s car
7. Forgot in gun case sold to Mexican drug lords
8. Forced to recycle by municipal Green Czar
9. Was short on toilet paper while camping
10. At this point, what difference does it make?

Of course, this legislation is meant just to highlight the ridiculousness of the IRS’s position (and the Obama Administration’s position of calling the IRS scandal a conspiracy theory).

Part two of Koskinen refuses to apologize is Monday in front of Congressman Issa’s committee.

As the Emails Churn…

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

The IRS Scandal continues to get uglier. Joe Kristan called it, “The dog ate my email….” All I know is that I’d end up in a new profession if I tried the excuses the IRS has given. But it got worse today.

First, attorney Cleta Mitchell represents “True the Vote.” TTV has sued the IRS and a number of its officials (including Lois Lerner). One rule in a lawsuit is that you can’t knowingly destroy evidence. Ms. Mitchell penned a letter to the IRS which was given to the PowerLine blog. An excerpt:

Therefore, the failure for the IRS to preserve and provide these records to the Committees would evidence either violations of numerous records retention statutes and regulations or obstruction of Congress.

Federal courts have held, in the context of trial, that the bad faith destruction of evidence relevant to proof of an issue gives rise to an inference that production of the evidence would have been unfavorable to the party responsible for its destruction.

Even if the various Congressional committees don’t get an answer, the IRS will be forced to give one in court. The letter from Ms. Mitchell goes further than the excerpt; it should be read in its entirety.

The various laws on record retention also come into play. There’s this report in pjmedia, where a former IRS IT specialist says that,

The IRS IT projects were fully funded and never lacked for resources. To state ‘Backup tapes were reused after some short period’ is a complete joke. The IRS had thousands and thousands of tapes and ‘Virtual Tape Libraries’ (VTL or non-tape backups based on hard drive storage technologies). There was never a reason to reuse tapes.

The other shoe fell today: Eliana Johnson reported that emails from six other IRS employees related to the scandal can’t be produced.

Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) subpoenaed IRS Commissioner John Koskinen to appear next Monday (June 23rd) in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. That’s a very short time frame for a subpoena, and I am certain that a message has been sent: Cut the b.s. and stop the excuses.

“I will not tolerate your continued obstruction and game-playing in response to the Committee’s investigation of the IRS targeting,” Issa, R-Calif., said in a letter accompanying the subpoena. “For too long, the IRS has promised to produce requested – and, later, subpoenaed – documents, only to respond later with excuses and inaction.”

What I wrote over the weekend still holds: Either the IRS has the most incompetent IT department in the world or the IRS is lying.