Pulling 'an IRS'? EPA reportedly loses text messages now sought in request

The EPA is being accused of pulling “an IRS” for reportedly planning to inform the National Archives it has lost text messages being sought in an open-records request.

The Washington Times reported Wednesday that lawyers from the Department of Justice informed a federal court of the EPA’s plans to tell the National Archives it cannot produce the text messages because they have been deleted.

The open-records request in question came from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is seeking text messages from the devices of EPA administrator Gina McCarthy.

Christopher Horner, a senior fellow for the institute, told FoxNews.com in a statement it is clear the EPA has not learned from the IRS’ mistakes. The tax agency came under fire earlier this year after it announced it could not locate an untold number of emails sought in congressional probes into the agency’s targeting of conservative groups.

“Here we see EPA agreeing to the court to 'do an IRS', which is to say: notify the National Archivist of the loss of every one of Gina McCarthy's thousands of text messages we have discovered she destroyed, just as the IRS finally agreed to notify (the National Archives) about the emails lost from (former IRS official) Lois Lerner's destroyed hard drive,” he said. “The IRS's insincere efforts at following through on Federal Records Act obligations drew the court's ire – the same court now hearing the EPA case.  Taxpayers should rightly expect EPA to have learned the proper lesson from the IRS's experience and hope for better.”

The Washington Times report did not specify the number of text messages being sought.

According to the Washington Times, the EPA has acknowledged that the text messages have been lost. However, the agency argued that text messages are personal and therefore do not have to be stored as part of the agency's official record as required by law.

A spokeswoman for the EPA told the Washington Times the notification to the National Archives was only being done because of a "abundance of caution."

“EPA is not aware of any evidence that federal records have been unlawfully destroyed,” Liz Purchia said.

According to the Washington Times, Justice Department attorneys plan to notify the archives in the next couple of days and will detail what the EPA admits to losing.