Worse and worse: IRS claimed in 2011 that there were no documents related to scrutiny of tea-party groups

A provable lie via the Washington Free Beacon. Or will this too be spun as evidence not of deceit but of idiocy, with IRS employees simply too stupid to be trusted to find a document when asked?

There’s your slogan for the next three and a half years of Hopenchange. “Liars, or merely idiots?”

The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, a conservative nonprofit group, filed a FOIA request in 2010 through investigative journalist Lynn K. Walsh seeking all IRS documents related to the agencies tax-exempt division specifically mentioning the Tea Party.

IRS headquarters responded in 2011 that it “found no documents specifically responsive to your request.”

However, the May 14 inspector general report found that the “first Sensitive Case Report [identifying Tea Party groups] was prepared by the Technical Unit” in April of 2010.

The report’s timeline chronicles the existence of numerous 2010 emails, memoranda, and policies related to the targeting of conservative organizations.

Follow the link for PDF versions of the original FOIA request in 2010 and the IRS response in 2011. There’s a logical explanation, actually, for why the “disclosure manager” wouldn’t have been able to find anything: The people in charge of targeting conservative groups might have kept the whole thing secret and off the books, at least to the extent that a rank-and-file FOIA clerk couldn’t access the material. Only later, when the IG started digging, did the smoking guns surface. Is that what happened here? A conspiracy of silence among the tax-exempt division that was so tight not even the agency’s own disclosure agents could penetrate it? I’ll bet the FBI will be interested in that assuming the probe Holder ordered isn’t merely cosmetic. Which, let’s face it, it probably is.

Elsewhere in dubious FOIA responses to conservative requests, remember earlier this week when news broke that the EPA seemed to treat FOIA actions from green groups a bit differently from actions by a conservative group critical of the agency? The head of the EPA announced yesterday that he’s going to have the agency’s own IG look into it. FOIA abuse is a minor subplot to what’s been going on lately but that might change depending upon what that IG comes back with. While you mull all that, via the Standard, here’s Steve Miller at today’s hearing insisting that no way no how was targeting conservative groups illegal, even if it was improper. We’ll see.