Rep. Darrell Issa, Chair of the House Oversight Committee, recently informed the IRS that the committee’s investigation has revealed that senior IRS officials were using their private emails to transmit confidential tax information. The investigation was sparked by the agency’s alleged targeting of conservative organizations seeking tax-exempt status.
“[W]e have uncovered a troubling pattern of IRS officials sending official documents to non-official email accounts as well as the use of non-official email accounts to conduct official business,” the September 30th letter to acting IRS Commissioner Dan Werfil reads. “In some instances, IRS officials have sent taxpayer protected information to non-official email accounts.”
The officials were identified as then-IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman, Lois Lerner, who headed the office at the center of the scandal, Judith Kindall, and Nikole Flax, who worked in Lerner’s office.
In the letter to Werfil, Issa said that the committee had found over 1,600 pages of emails and documents related to official business in non-official email accounts. Nearly 30 pages of the material contained confidential tax information.
The revelation raises serious questions about privacy and the security of the confidential data transmitted to the private email accounts. There is also a question of what might have been done with the data after it was sent to the private accounts. Those records would not be subject to the normal rules of transparency or freedom of information requests.
The letter also suggests the practice may be widespread within the agency, given the prolific use of the practice by four senior officials. The committee has requested further information by October 15.