Today’s banana-republic update comes from our old friend Lois Lerner, who turned the Internal Revenue Service into a political weapon against President Obama’s enemies in the 2012 election cycle, and is somehow still (a) not in jail and (b) collecting a fat pension courtesy of the taxpayers.
The IRS scandal is an astounding demonstration of how, decades into the Information Age, the same government that demands instant responses from private citizens to its every inquiry can pretend it takes years for it to notice legally significant details about its own employees. In an era when the average corner convenience store is probably pushing a few gigabytes of data up and down the Internet every day, Obama’s IRS expects us to believe they need 36 months to cough up documents in response to court orders.
On Monday, the IRS suddenly “realized” that former Tax Exempt Organizations Division chief Lerner was conducting government business on a secret personal email account she created under a phony name, “Toby Miles.”
As with virtually every other tiny bit of “transparency” squeezed from this insanely corrupt and impossibly opaque Administration, the latest revelation comes due to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by Judicial Watch – the group that keeps plugging away long after the mighty mainstream media and its horde of “investigative reporters” have cheerfully swallowed Obama Administration lies and declared every scandal dead and buried.
All those big-bucks networks are perfectly capable of filing Freedom of Information Act requests, and pushing them into lawsuits when the Administration fails to comply, but for some reason none of them do it the way Judicial Watch does. Instead, your crusading liberal media is almost as hard to find in a FOIA courtroom as they are at massive anti-Planned Parenthood rallies.
So here we have Judicial Watch, diligently insisting on seeing the records Obama’s IRS keeps insisting were lost, misplaced, or destroyed in freak hard drive accidents, and suddenly – years after this scandal broke – the agency discovers some Lerner emails responsive to that FOIA suit have been stashed in a personal account she created under an alias. Apparently Lerner wasn’t willing to spring for the full Banana Republic Obfuscation Package, which involves paying someone in Denver to keep your private email server full of classified documents tucked away in his bathroom.
The Washington Times reports on this shining example of transparent, responsible government:
IRS lawyer Geoffrey J. Klimas told the court that as the agency was putting together a set of documents to turn over to Judicial Watch, it realized Ms. Lerner had used yet another email account, in addition to her official one and another personal one already known to the agency.
“In addition to emails to or from an email account denominated ‘Lois G. Lerner‘ or ‘Lois Home,’ some emails responsive to Judicial Watch’s request may have been sent to or received from a personal email account denominated ‘Toby Miles,’” Mr. Klimas told Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who is hearing the case.
It is unclear who Toby Miles is, but Mr. Klimas said the IRS has concluded that was “a personal email account used by Lerner.”
It might be unclear who Toby Miles is, but it’s crystal clear who Lois Lerner is, and not only did she conduct government business on a personal account under a phony name, but she never bothered to let anyone know that “Toby” was keeping FOIA-responsive documents in his virtual back pocket.
The Washington Times notes that good old Toby’s email address popped up as a recipient on a few of the IRS emails reviewed by the House Ways and Means Committee, and nobody could ever figure out who he was, although there were theories the account was linked to Lerner’s husband… a tax attorney and Obama political booster who was not an employee of the Internal Revenue Service.
IRS lawyer Klimas justified this nonsense to the court by noting – I am not making this up – that they implied in a footnote to a letter attached to a legal brief in June of 2014 that Lerner might have some other personal accounts with interesting documents tucked away in them, so they’re covered.
It’s a good thing the rule of law is utterly meaningless to the Democrat ruling class and their key political operatives, or some folks would be in a heap of trouble right now.
“It is simply astonishing that years after this scandal erupted we are learning about an account Lois Lerner used that evidently hadn’t been searched,” exclaimed Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton, comparing Lerner’s tactics to Hillary Clinton’s secret email server, and recalling how the IRS stalled for months by pretending another trove of Lerner correspondence had been lost to history because her hard drive went kablooey (as modern hard drives so rarely do) and no backups had been made, in defiance of every single agency and Administration policy covering data security… except backups had been made, and they were found within hours of someone actually, you know, looking for them.
The bottom line is that these obfuscation tactics worked, and that should scare the hell out of every American citizen, regardless of political affiliation. This scandal began with Lerner admitting agency wrongdoing, in response to a planted question at a staged event, to get out in front of a devastating inspector general report; after years of political theater, media manipulation, and obfuscation tactics worthy of a tin-horn dictatorship, that admission was effectively retracted, and not a single person suffered consequences worse than early retirement with full benefits. Even the fabled “low-level employees in Cincinnati” the panicked Obama Administration tried to blame in the early, white-hot hours of the scandal seem to be doing okay. Obama and his friendly media brought us a level of corruption in which the scapegoats don’t even get scaped.
The government’s boasts of transparency and accountability stand revealed as toxic illusions. There is nothing “transparent” about answering pertinent questions years later. No one is held accountable at all, even though a strong case can be made that the politicized IRS tipped the 2012 election. Rest assured, that case would be made very loudly if this was the tale of a Republican president’s re-election campaign intimidating minority and environmentalist groups by slow-walking their tax-exempt applications.
No benefit of the doubt would be extended to the incumbent in that case, no matter what the popular vote or electoral college totals were. It would be a matter of pop-culture folklore, presented as an accepted fact even in light entertainment programming, that the re-elected Republican was an illegitimate President.
One of the big reasons partisan affiliation would have made such a difference, if this were a Republican scandal, is that stonewalling and foot-dragging would not have been tolerated for an instant. The media would be flooding those FOIA courts, instead of leaving a lonely watchdog group to keep plugging away, month after month. They would have treated every delaying tactic as an admission of guilt, and built a Narrative about how a supposedly high-tech Administration that claims it can micromanage a vast Information Age economy claims it needs years of paper-shuffling to answer simple questions about how top officials perform their vital duties.
Knowing that no such pressure existed on them, the Obama Administration was able to drag one of the most incredible abuses of power in modern history out until shattering revelations about gangster government thwarting oversight by hiding legally-responsive documents under cross-gender aliases are mere historical footnotes. Hopefully the Republican candidates in 2016 can give us better reasons to vote for them than saying, Hey, at least the media won’t let us get away with weaponizing the federal bureaucracy against our political enemies… but at this point, that would be a significant improvement.