WASHINGTON (AP) — The Internal Revenue Service has lost more emails connected to the tea party investigation, congressional investigators said Tuesday.
The IRS said last Friday it had lost an untold number of emails when Lois Lerner's computer crashed in 2011. Lerner used to head the division that handles applications for tax-exempt status.
On Tuesday, two key lawmakers said the IRS has also lost emails from six additional IRS workers whose computers crashed. Among them was Nikole Flax, who was chief of staff to Lerner's boss, then-deputy commissioner Steven Miller.
Miller later became acting IRS commissioner, but was forced to resign last year after the agency acknowledged that agents had improperly scrutinized tea party and other conservative groups when they applied for tax-exempt status. Documents have shown some liberal groups were also flagged.
Investigators from the House Ways and Means Committee interviewed IRS technicians Monday. The technicians said they first realized that Lerner's emails were lost in February or March — months before they informed congressional investigators, said a statement by two top Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee, chairman Dave Camp of Michigan and subcommittee chairman Charles Boustany of Louisiana.
The two lawmakers called on the Justice Department to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS, something Attorney General Eric Holder has declined to do in the past.
"It looks like the American people were lied to and the IRS tried to cover up the fact it conveniently lost key documents in this investigation," the statement by Camp and Boustany said. "The White House promised full cooperation, the commissioner promised full access to Lois Lerner emails and now the agency claims it cannot produce those materials and they've known for months they couldn't do this."
The IRS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
"It is unfortunate that the IRS experienced equipment failure that resulted in several computers crashing and some email data being lost from Lois Lerner's hard drive between 2009 and 2011," said Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee. "But every equipment failure is not a conspiracy. The IRS has taken every step to restore the data, and has already retrieved the emails sent internally during that time period from non-impacted computers."
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