The Obama administration has reportedly refused to publicly release hundreds of IRS Tea Party targeting documents.
Access to more than 500 IRS government documents through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was denied by the administration after a request by The Hill, Breitbart reported.
Specifically, The Hill stated that it had "sought emails from former IRS official Lois Lerner and Treasury officials, including Secretary Jack Lew, while the inspector general was working on its explosive May 2013 report that the IRS used 'inappropriate criteria' to review the political activities of tax-exempt groups."
Lerner, who headed the IRS division, has been accused of processing Tea Party and conservative groups for tax-exempt status improperly before the 2010 and 2012 elections. The IRS improperly delayed dozens of applications for years, according to an internal audit by the agency's inspector general. Documents show that some liberal groups were singled out, too.
Since the scandal broke in May 2013, documents from various agencies and individuals have been requested by GOP-led House committees, with the IRS claiming to have spent $10 million in compliance of such requests. But Lerner, who was placed on administrative leave shortly after the scandal broke and has since retired, remained the focal suspicion of the controversy, repeatedly denying any illegal behavior.
Early in 2014, the IRS finally agreed to hand over all of Lerner's emails and set about collecting them, only to realize that many of them prior to April 2011 were missing. In a claim that strains all credulity, the agency said it discovered that Lerner's computer had crashed in mid-2011, wiping out two years' worth of her emails from 2009 through 2011.
The fact that the IRS made no mention of this after promising to turn over the documents for two months had committee investigators crying foul, especially after it was revealed that, as a matter of federal law, the agency was required to and has maintained a contract with an outside company, Sonasoft, for the sole purpose of backing up the email files. As a result of what many on Capitol Hill believe to be a convenient stall and cover-up tactic, outspoken conservative Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called for the Justice Department to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the matter further.
Apart from Lerner, the IRS also lost the emails of several other employees who worked under her during that period.
Until June of last year, the tax agency was still claiming that Lerner's hard drive had been recycled and presumably destroyed after the computer crash in 2011. But in November, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found many of those emails and is reportedly working to recover them fully, a GOP source who spoke with TIGTA was told.
And now, The Hill believes that the 2013 emails and other correspondence between the IRS and TIGTA will further provide a glimpse into the tax agency's scrutiny of conservative-leaning organizations.
It's just more of the same from the Obama administration, said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), according to The Hill.
"It's par for the course," said Jordan. "We've had a difficult time getting information from the IRS and the Department of Justice."