Judicial Watch Statement on IRS Records Scandal
Internal Watchdog Found Records Went Missing
Contact: Jill Farrell, Judicial Watch, 202-646-5172
WASHINGTON, July 17, 2017 /Standard Newswire/ -- Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton issued the following statement in response to a July 13 Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report, which finds the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) records management practice resulted in lost records and incomplete IRS responses to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and congressional inquiries.
This new report is shocking but not surprising. We have long battled the IRS in court over its obstruction in responding to FOIA requests about Obama era IRS abuses. It is a scandal that the Obama IRS did not tell Judicial Watch, the courts, or Congress about the loss of government records. Our attorneys will review this report to assess whether we should seek relief and accountability from the courts. In the meantime, President Trump should finally fire IRS Commissioner John Koskinen and direct the Justice Department to reopen its criminal inquiry into the Obama IRS abuses and cover-ups.
In April, Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the IRS to obtain records relating to the agency's "preservation and/or retention" of the email records of officials who have left the agency since January 2010. (Judicial Watch v. Internal Revenue Service (No.1:17-cv-00596)).
The suit was filed as part of Judicial Watch's continuing efforts to gain information about the IRS' targeting of conservative groups and citizens during the Obama administration.
Judicial Watch's litigation forced the IRS first to say that emails belonging to Lois Lerner, former director of the Exempt Organizations Unit of the IRS, were supposedly missing and later declare to the court that the emails were on IRS back-up systems. Lerner was one of the top officials responsible for the IRS' targeting of President Obama's political opponents. Judicial Watch exposed various IRS' record keeping problems:
• In June 2014, the IRS claimed to have "lost" responsive emails belonging to Lerner and other IRS officials.
• In July 2014 Judge Emmett Sullivan ordered the IRS to submit to the court a written declaration under oath about what happened to Lerner's "lost" emails. The sworn declarations proved to be less than forthcoming.
• In August 2014, Department of Justice attorneys for the IRS finally admitted Judicial Watch that Lerner's emails, indeed all government computer records, are backed up by the federal government in case of a government-wide catastrophe. The IRS' attorneys also disclosed that Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) was looking at several of these backup tapes.
• In November 2014, the IRS told the court it had failed to search any of the IRS standard computer systems for the "missing" emails of Lerner and other IRS officials.