IRS canceled e-mail back-up service – weeks after Lerner hard drive crash
posted at 9:21 am on June 23, 2014 by Ed Morrissey
The coincidences just keep on a-rolling in the IRS targeting scandal. It turns out that the IRS didn’t just pay some low-level schlep to recycle backup server tapes on a six-month basis to maintain their e-mail records. They paid an outside firm, Sonasoft, to archive that data for long-term retrieval — or at least they did. That contract got canceled just weeks after Lois Lerner’s hard-drive failure, the Daily Caller learned:
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) cancelled its longtime relationship with an email-storage contractor just weeks after ex-IRS official Lois Lerner’s computer crashed and shortly before other IRS officials’ computers allegedly crashed.
The IRS signed a contract with Sonasoft, an email-archiving company based in San Jose, California, each year from 2005 to 2010. The company, which partners with Microsoft and counts The New York Times among its clients, claims in its company slogans that it provides “Email Archiving Done Right” and “Point-Click Recovery.” Sonasoft in 2009 tweeted, “If the IRS uses Sonasoft products to backup their servers why wouldn’t you choose them to protect your servers?”
Sonasoft was providing “automatic data processing” services for the IRS throughout the January 2009 to April 2011 period in which Lerner sent her missing emails.
But Sonasoft’s six-year business relationship with the IRS came to an abrupt end at the close of fiscal year 2011, as congressional investigators began looking into the IRS conservative targeting scandal and IRS employees’ computers started crashing left and right.
Oddly, this doesn’t appear to have come up in testimony from officials at the IRS. John Koskinen’s opening statement at the House Ways and Means Committee hearing of how hard the IRS worked to retrieve that data didn’t include any effort to restore a Sonasoft backup from the servers, or mention any outside contractor at all. The existence of this contract appears to have been a better-kept secret than NSA snooping through Internet service providers.
Perhaps the contractor’s relationship with the IRS and Koskinen’s slow fan-dance of transparency will come up in this week’s hearings on the IRS scandal. Koskinen has House Oversight Committee appearances scheduled for tonight and tomorrow, and Darrell Issa gave the IRS Commissioner more than 50 questions to answer. And in the #5 position, Issa wants specifics about outside contractors:
5. Please identify all vendors and outside contractors used by the IRS for the following purposes:
q. To develop, service, or maintain the IRS’s e-mail systems.
r. To develop, service, or maintain the IRS’s e-mail exchange servers.
s. To recycle or destroy IRS hard drives.
t. To provide mobile phone and data services.
The answers to these might end up forcing Koskinen to apologize — but don’t bet on it.
By the way, the White House insists that no special prosecutor is necessary for the IRS probe:
The White House rejected calls on Friday for a special prosecutor to look into lost IRS emails and the inappropriate targeting of conservative groups, saying Republican investigations have failed to find a smoking gun.
Both the Internal Revenue Service and the administration have already demonstrated “extensive cooperation” with Republicans in Congress, Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, adding there have been 750,000 pages of documents provided, as well as 64,000 e-mails from then-IRS division chief Lois Lerner.
“Our willingness to cooperate with this investigation is evident from the numbers,” Earnest said, charging that a “a large number of claims and conspiracy theories that have been floated about this process by Republicans just have not panned out, frankly.”
Update: J.E. Dyer has lots more about Sonasoft at Liberty Unyielding:
Whatever Sonasoft’s obligations after the contract was terminated, it’s clear that the company had a relevant contractual obligation to the IRS at the time of the supposed email loss. There seems to be no question that Sonasoft’s knowledge of the email “catastrophe” needs to be investigated.
But there’s more to this drama – and it’s (go figure) political. Sonasoft is a small company, founded and run in Silicon Valley by a Mr. Nand (Andy) Khanna. It isn’t clear whether Andy Khanna is any relation to Rohit (Ro) Khanna, a Pennsylvania-born attorney who served as an Obama appointee in the U.S. Department of Commerce, and is now a Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives in the 17th district of California (in Silicon Valley). But what is clear is that the two other members of Sonasoft’s board of directors – the members other than Andy Khanna – are both working hard to get Ro Khanna elected.
Here are the players. On the Sonasoft board of directors, Dr. Romesh K. Japra, M.D., is the chairman of the board. The board director is Mr. Romi Randhawa, whose day job is president and CEO of HPM Networks, another Silicon Valley IT company.
And then there’s Ro Khanna. Khanna has connections to Obama that go way back, to Obama’s first run for the Illinois state senate, when Khanna was at the University of Chicago as an undergrad. Will Burns, a Chicago Democratic political operative, recruited Khanna to walk precincts with Obama during the campaign, and Khanna was reportedly star-struck …
Be sure to read the rest, as it’s too lengthy and complicated to excerpt.