More IRS Emails Go Missing

Yesterday Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp revealed that Lois Lerner is not the only person involved in the improper targeting of conservative groups whose emails have gone missing.

In a press release Camp reveals that the emails of 6 other individuals have also gone missing. Only one of the six is mentioned by name.  Nikole Flax was the Chief of Staff to Deputy Commissioner Steve Miller. Miller was later promoted to acting Commissioner and then resigned last May amid fallout from the scandal.

In addition to learning that the emails are missing, Camp also discovered this week that the IRS has known the emails were missing since at least February. That was well before the current IRS commissioner promised to turn over all of Lerner’s emails.

Camp and subcommittee chairman Charles Boustany issued a joint statement saying, “Even when the IRS does admit something, they are not fully honest with us. Despite their attempt to bury the missing Lerner emails on page 15 of a 27 page letter that arrived late Friday, we now know documents from other central figures, like Nikole Flax, are missing. The fact that Ms. Flax was a frequent visitor to the White House and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building only raises more questions.”

Explanations of Lerner’s missing emails indicate that a computer crash in 2011 led to the failure of her personal hard drive. Emails are generally stored on email servers which generally use disk arrays to prevent data loss, but the IRS maintains a 500mb limit for storage per individual. Once an individual exceeds this limit they are asked to delete non-essential emails or archive older material on their personal work computer. Archiving makes the data subject to loss if the individual computer where it is stored fails.

The IRS keeps a digital back up of all emails using tapes but those backups are only good for 6 months. After that time the tapes are reused, erasing the older data. Despite all of this, any emails Lerner sent or received between Jan. 2009 and April 2011 would still exist on the sender (or receiver’s) end. For instance, if Lerner had communicated with someone at DOJ, the recipient of those emails would still have a copy unless of course their computer also happened to crash.