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IRS says Lerner emails lost forever, but agency had contract with file-storage company Sonasoft

The Obama administration claims that emails connected to Lois Lerner, the IRS official at the center of the Tea Party-targeting scandal, are lost forever because her computer hard drive crashed, but skeptics are pointing out the agency had a contract with a file-storage company.

House congressional investigators have requested emails from 2009 to 2011, when the IRS division led by Lerner began targeting for extra scrutiny Tea Party and other conservative nonprofits applying for tax-exempt status. 

The IRS had a contract with email-achiever Sonasoft in effect at least through 2009, according to the website FedSpending.org.

That same year, the company tweeted: “The IRS uses Sonasoft to back up their servers, why wouldn’t you choose them to protect your servers?”

And a document on the company website suggests its system "archives all email content and so reduces the risk of non-compliance with legal, regulatory and other obligations to preserve critical business content." 

However, whether Sonasoft’s government contract extended through 2011 or if the company had the capacity to save every email from such a large agency remains unclear.

The California-based company could not be reached Sunday for comment.

The agency has said that internal backup tapes are recycled every six months and that Lerner's hard drive has now been recycled.

In addition to the IRS saying the emails are un-recoverable, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney gave a similar statement Wednesday. He also said none of Lerner’s recoverable emails included direct exchanges with the Executive Office of the President and that the agency is turning over 24,000 Lerner emails, recovered through the files of other email users.

The IRS told Congress earlier this month that it could not produce all of the requested Lerner emails because her hard drive crashed in 2011.

And last week, Michigan GOP Rep. Dave Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the IRS also has lost emails from six other IRS personnel.