Judicial Watch just keeps on uncovering more information about the Internal Revenue Service’s actions both before and after its targeting of conservative groups became public knowledge.
The conservative watchdog group managed to get the Justice Department to admit that the missing emails, including those of Lois Lerner, still exist on a backup system. Now, via National Review, Judicial Watch has discovered that the IRS destroyed Lerner’s Blackberry, after — yes, after — Congress began looking into the targeting scandal, and didn’t bother to save any of the information on it:
According to the second round of IRS affidavits submitted to U.S. district court judge Emmett Sullivan, who is presiding over the lawsuit brought against the nation’s tax agency by watchdog group Judicial Watch, Inc., IRS technical analysts did not search Lois Lerner’s Blackberry for her allegedly “lost” e-mails — and the smartphone was destroyed after congressional investigation had begun.
Lerner’s government-issued laptop reportedly crashed in June 2011, at which time IRS analysts tried but failed to recover data, including e-mail communications, according to previous testimony. In his sworn declaration, Stephen Manning – deputy chief information officer for strategy and modernization with the IRS Information Technology business unit – reports that “there is no record of any attempt by any IRS IT employee to recover data from any Blackberry device assigned to Lois Lerner in response to the Congressional investigations or this litigation.” This despite the fact that Lerner had been in possession of a government-issued Blackberry since November 2009, according to the statement of Thomas J. Kane – deputy associate chief counsel for procedure and administration within the IRS Office of Chief Counsel – and it would likely have hosted at least some of Lerner’s electronic communications.
Moreover, IRS documents provided by Kane show that Lerner’s Blackberry “was removed or wiped clean of any sensitive or proprietary information and removed as scrap for disposal in June 2012.” By that time, a congressional investigation was well under way. In March of that year then-IRS chief Douglas Shulman was questioned by Congress about the targeting of conservative groups, and in April Republican congressman sent questions to Lerner about the targeting. Lerner responded on April 26.
Lerner wasn’t yet someone whom congressional committees were looking at when the initial inquiries began in June 2012, after some members of Congress began to complain of shady IRS activity. Her name wouldn’t be attached to the scandal for another 11 months. Still, the fact that the IRS didn’t save the information on Lerner’s Blackberry is, well, utterly irresponsible.