IRS scandal: Attorney General Lynch, it's time for a special prosecutor

It sounds eerily familiar.

Remember when former IRS top official Lois Lerner tried to downplay the unlawful targeting scheme against conservative and Tea Party groups in May 2013?  After the revelation, she did not expect the uproar that ensued and quickly went into finger-pointing mode – blaming what she called “low-level” employees in Cincinnati – labelling their actions “absolutely inappropriate” and concluding this represented an “error in judgment.”

Now, fast forward to Thursday – before the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee.  Investigators looking into the IRS scandal told members of Congress it was low-level employees who were responsible for the destruction of hundreds of computer backup tapes that contained as many as 24,000 emails to and from Lerner herself.

Timothy Camus, who works for the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, told the Committee that two “lower-graded” employees at the IRS center in Martinsburg, West Virginia were responsible for deleting the backup tapes and the loss of the Lerner emails.  We’re told they were “magnetically erased” around March 4, 2014.

We now know when Lerner tried to pass the buck years ago by blaming “low-level” employees for the scheme – that was false. Over the years, we’ve learned that the unlawful scheme was well planned and coordinated by Lerner and others – yet no one has yet been fired or held accountable.

When I heard the phrase “lower-graded” employees in Thursday’s testimony, I cringed. I thought this can’t be happening again.

As troubling new information about the IRS continues to be released, we applaud Congress for its continuing investigation into this burgeoning scandal. And we renew our call for a special prosecutor.

The watchdog investigator assured members of Congress that these “lower-graded” employees made a mistake – that there was no direct evidence that these employees acted deliberately – no proof that that they were trying to destroy evidence.

Mistake or intentional: this is simply inexcusable.

What’s worse, as Fox News reports, this destruction of evidence occurred 10 months after a preservation order for the emails; seven months after a subpoena; and one month after IRS officials realized there were potential problems locating certain emails.

Members of Congress were shocked by this latest revelation.

“We have been misled. There has been evidence that has been destroyed,” Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said. “There was a [document] preservation order in place” that the IRS “never complied with,” Rep. Chaffetz added. “We want to pursue the facts. When there’s a destruction of evidence that goes to a whole another level.”

This latest revelation points to a major problem that we have understood from the beginning: The IRS is accountable to no one. The IRS plays by its own set of rules. And, the IRS will go to extraordinary means to hide the truth.

That is exactly why we are in federal court pursuing a massive lawsuit in which we represent dozens of organizations who were unlawfully targeted by the IRS.

Let’s not forget that it was just a couple of weeks ago when we learned that the IRS used “hundreds of attorneys” to hide critical information from Congress. In Congressional testimony earlier this month, the IRS set up a previously unknown “special project team” comprised of “hundreds of attorneys,” including the IRS Chief Counsel (one of only two politically appointed positions at the IRS). The “special project” this team was given?  Concealing information from Congress.

Revelation after revelation. They just keep coming. It’s no wonder why the IRS’s unfavorable rating with Americans continues to climb.

As troubling new information about the IRS continues to be released, we applaud Congress for its continuing investigation into this burgeoning scandal. And we renew our call for a special prosecutor.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder refused to make such an appointment – refused to engage this critical issue. It’s our hope that Holder’s replacement, Attorney General Loretta Lynch – who was sworn-in two months ago – takes this scandal seriously and her responsibility to seek justice for the Americans people.

The American people deserve answers. The American people deserve the truth. The American people deserve justice.

Sadly, the American people have been down this road before. And, based on the track record of the Obama administration investigating its own IRS, no one is holding their breath.