Thousands of emails detailing years of government communications between officials intimately involved in the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative nonprofit groups have been lost, IRS officials informed the members of the congressional committees investigating the controversy last week. While a number of Democratic lawmakers attempted to downplay the scandal in its early days as the wrongdoing of one misguided individual, it speaks to a larger truth about the IRS.
Taking into account other recent scandals, including excess spending on agency conferences and the inappropriate awarding of employee bonuses, it appears greater oversight is needed and that problems within the agency extend further than how 501(c)(4) status is awarded to social welfare groups that engage in political activity.
As part of the congressional inquiry, lawmakers sought to examine emails sent from former IRS Director Lois Lerner and other ranking agency officials. Last week during a meeting of the House Ways and Means Committee, agency technicians told lawmakers that IRS officials knew that Lerner’s emails had been lost three months before they informed the committee that the documents would be released.