It’s amazing how these supposedly “old news” investigations keep turning up new information, no? More than three years after the exposure of IRS political targeting of administration critics, an attorney for the agency admitted in a new court filing late yesterday that Lois Lerner used another personal e-mail account for official government business. Lerner, who famously took the Fifth at a Congressional hearing, identified herself as “Toby Miles” on the other account, raising new questions about her activities:
Lois Lerner had yet another personal email account used to conduct some IRS business, the tax agency confirmed in a new court filing late Monday that further complicates the administration’s efforts to be transparent about Ms. Lerner’s actions during the tea party targeting scandal.
IRS lawyer Geoffrey J. Klimas told the court that as the agency was putting together a set of documents to turn over to Judicial Watch, it realized Ms. Lerner had used yet another email account, in addition to her official one and another personal one already known to the agency.
“In addition to emails to or from an email account denominated ‘Lois G. Lerner‘ or ‘Lois Home,’ some emails responsive to Judicial Watch’s request may have been sent to or received from a personal email account denominated ‘Toby Miles,’” Mr. Klimas told Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who is hearing the case.
Jeff Dunetz scoffs at the most transparent administration evah:
Boy oh boy, private email accounts seem to be a bad habit of this, the most transparent administration since the big bang, billions of years ago.
That’s certainly one issue in this, but it’s hardly the only issue. Let’s not forget that the government has stalled for years in producing Lerner’s e-mails, both with Congress and with the court in this FOIA action. Her e-mails were the central fight this case, and yet the IRS now says they’ve just stumbled onto the “Toby Miles” sockpuppet account. This comes just a few weeks after Judge Emmet Sullivan threatened to jail IRS commissioner John Koskinen for contempt if the IRS kept stonewalling on the e-mails. With this filing, Sullivan has to be livid at three years of deception on the key part of this case. One can only wonder what Congress will do.
Even more importantly, this raises all sorts of questions about why Lerner would need an e-mail address under a false identity. There have been indications that Lerner coordinated this effort with other agencies, notably her former employer, the Federal Elections Commission, but no substantial paper trail yet exists for it. In part, that may be because the IRS has stalled on her official e-mail records for so long, but it might be because any coordination was done on a private account under a fake name. Klimer admits that at least some of the “Toby Miles” communications could be responsive to Judicial Watch’s FOIA demand.
The Washington Times notes that the House Ways and Means Committee’s criminal referral on Lerner mentioned the “Toby Miles” account, but that was in reference to an e-mail on Lerner’s official IRS account:
The House Ways and Means Committee also approved a criminal referral asking the Justice Department to look into Ms. Lerner’s conduct, but its status is not clear.
Mr. Obama has said the problems at the IRS stemmed from bad laws and lack of funding, not from political bias, and a bipartisan report from the Senate Finance Committee could not reach any firm conclusions about the extent of targeting.
Curiously, the Ways and Means Committee criminal referral mentioned the Toby Miles email address, identified as [email protected] The address came to light because it was included on an email that also had Ms. Lerner’s official account on the chain of recipients.
Last summer, the Ways and Means report suggested that the account belonged to Lerner’s husband, Michael Miles. Klimer’s filing now puts that assumption in serious doubt, and perhaps puts Miles within range of the probe as well. Sullivan’s reaction to this filing, and the reaction of Ways and Means, will be worth watching.