Judicial Watch released 906 pages of newly recovered Lois Lerner emails from the IRS that are believed to recently have been recovered by the IRS’ internal watchdog – the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). The IRS released the emails under a court order by U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan. The new documents show that Lois Lerner and other top officials in the Exempt Organizations Unit of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), including soon-to-be Acting IRS Commissioner Steve Miller, closely monitored and approved the controversial handling of tax-exempt applications by Tea Party organizations. The documents also show that at least one group received an inquiry from the IRS in order to buy time and keep the organization from contacting Congress.
At July 1, 2015, status conference, Judge Sullivan ordered the IRS to begin producing, every week, the nearly 1,800 newly recovered Lois Lerner emails responsive to Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Despite the court order, the IRS did not produce any Lois Lerner emails until July 15. The IRS also failed to provide Judicial Watch a status report of the Lois Lerner email production issues, as also ordered by Judge Sullivan. Last week, Judge Sullivan ordered sua sponte the parties to appear for a status hearing for tomorrow (July 29) shortly after Judicial Watch raised concerns about the IRS’ failure to comply with his orders to release the newly discovered Lerner emails and status updates on its production of previously “missing” documents.
The developments come in Judicial Watch’s FOIA lawsuit seeking documents about the Obama IRS’ targeting and harassment of Tea Party and conservative opponents of President Obama (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Internal Revenue Service (No. 1:13-cv-01559)). Judicial Watch’s litigation forced the IRS first to admit that Lerner’s emails were supposedly missing and, then, that the emails were on IRS’ back-up systems. . .
IRS Program Manager Cindy Thomas of the Cincinnati Exempt Organization [emailed] Lerner . . . detailing the pressure caused by the IRS’ Washington headquarters failure to move on the “advocacy cases.” Thomas warned of litigation and admitted that she authorized a letter for more information that was sent to one of the complaining groups to keep it from contacting Congress:
The backlog of work involves advocacy organizations. As of about a month ago, there were 161 of these cases sitting idle and we probably have more by now. The control dates for these cases go back to the end of 2009 and all through 2010. We’ve been waiting for EO in D.C. to get us a guidance/reference document with lessons learned from the c4 and c3 cases they worked and coordinated with Judy Kindell and Counsel. We’re getting calls from POAs wanting to know who has put the halt on working these cases and threatening to contact their Congressional offices. Just today, I instructed one of my managers to get an additional information letter out to one of these organizations — if nothing else to buy time so he didn’t contact his Congressional Office. Soon, we’re going to start getting TAO’s [Taxpayer Assistance Orders] from TAS [Taxpayer Advocate Service] or declaratory judgment cases filed —- then, I guess everyone will decide its time to start moving the cases when we have mounds of additional paperwork to process along with the cases (adding even more work for us to do).
(Read more from “Court Order Forces Recovery, Release of Emails Proving Close Monitoring by Top IRS Officials of Tea Party Groups” HERE)