On Thursday, investigators announced that they had discovered over 30,000 emails related to the targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service that were originally said to have been lost entirely.
Originally, IRS officials had said that the emails of former IRS employee Lois Lerner, who was at the heart of the controversy, were unrecoverable do to a hard drive failure which occurred less than a month after a Republican Congressman questioned the IRS practices concerning conservative groups. Back ups to those emails were nonexistent, assured IRS officials.
However, The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration recently found back up tapes that were not provided to them by the IRS by talking to the IRS’ technology specialists. Investigators revealed on Thursday that IRS management had never even asked the technology specialists for the tapes, despite a subpoena issued for them.
The IRS took two months to respond to a Congressional inquiry asking about the tapes, finally claiming that the missing emails could not be recovered. Federal investigators found them in two weeks.
The emails on the tapes date back to 2001, which is 10 years earlier than what IRS officials claimed could be accessed of Lerner’s emails.
Whether or not the IRS intentionally withheld the tapes in an attempt to cover up Lerner’s emails will be the focus of an investigation.
“There is potential criminal activity,” said IRS Deputy Inspector General Timothy Camus at a hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
As of yet, investigators are not sure how many, if any, of the recovered emails are new.