Lois Lerner, the key former Internal Revenue Service official at the center of a congressional probe relating to the agency’s targeting of conservative groups’ tax-exempt status, warned her colleagues last year about what they put in emails because they could be requested by Congress.
Ironically, she informed another colleague of her warnings in an email last April — about a month before Lerner admitted to the agency’s inappropriate targeting of certain conservative groups. According to new emails released by House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California), Lerner went so far as to ask a colleague if an instant-message system could be archived.
“I was cautioning folks about email and how we have had several occasions where Congress has asked for emails and there has been an electronic search for responsive emails — so we need to be cautious about what we say in emails,” Lerner wrote in one email. She proceeded to ask a colleague whether an office communication server’s (OCS) messages were saved.
When her colleague emailed back that OCS messages were not automatically saved, Lerner responded with a one-word email: “Perfect.”
Lerner headed the IRS division that processed applications for tax-exempt status. The agency caused a fury last year when it admitted it had targeted certain conservative and Tea Party-aligned groups for extra scrutiny when examining their applications.
Lawmakers on the House Oversight Committee noted Wednesday the new emails came less than two weeks after the IRS Inspector General’s office presented a draft copy of its report on the alleged Tea Pary targeting to the IRS.
During the more than year-long query, investigators have not found any evidence that anyone outside the IRS was aware of the targeting or was involved in carrying it out. The congressional investigation had mostly quieted until last month, when the IRS told a congressional committee it had lost about two years’ worth of Lerner’s emails because of a computer crash.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told the Oversight Committee during a hearing Wednesday he had no knowledge of Lerner’s new email exchange about instant messaging.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.