For months, the president and his administration have called the bipartisan uproar over the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative non-profits a “phony” scandal. The Attorney General has done absolutely nothing to pursue those responsible for this infringement of taxpayer rights. And now they are writing off the disappearance of emails by the lead perpetrator of this scandal as a computer glitch.
As the founder of the American Future Fund, one of the social welfare groups targeted by the IRS, few could blame me for being shocked — and yes, infuriated — by the latest revelation that potentially key emails have disappeared.
Let’s be clear — there is nothing “phony” about a taxpayer being targeted by the government agency that can directly impact the survival of your organization. This harassment was real. We were targeted simply because we did not walk lockstep with the ideology of this administration. And it was through their continuing investigation, the House of Representatives found emails between Lois Lerner and her associates that raise the specter of politically motivated targeting to an even higher level.
In these emails, Lerner labeled conservative and “Tea Party” organizations as “very dangerous” and their review as something one of her senior advisors and counsels “need(s) to be in on.” Perhaps even more damning, emails indicate that Lerner and her adviser Sharon Light exchanged emails in the heat of the 2012 election stating that outside organizations could make it more difficult for the Democrats to hold their majority in the United States Senate – emails that were in the wake of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s complaints that conservative organizations were working beyond the statutory limits.
These words appear to directly contradict statements by former IRS Commissioner Steven Miller, and Lerner herself, that IRS targeting was confined to “rogue” employees in Cincinnati and that senior officials were not aware of the targeting in the first place. And these emails also raise dubious questions about separate emails Lerner sent regarding the legal status of my organization, the American Future Fund. But now the trail is being stymied by an apparent technological malfunction.
This entire debacle is reminiscent of the movie “Zoolander,” the satire of the male modeling industry where moronic supermodels Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson need to save a foreign leader from the evil designer Will Ferrell.
Near the climax of the movie, Wilson claims he has the evidence to put the guilty Ferrell in prison — which he claims are literally IN the computer. When Wilson breaks the computer open, there is a collective sigh in the movie, with Ferrell’s character exasperatedly asking if he’s on crazy pills.
This was comedy. No one, even the most computer illiterate, believes emails are stored in a computer like a filing cabinet. And neither did the Obama Administration.
As reports have confirmed, the IRS used an email-storage contractor named Sonasoft for this very purpose. Sonasoft even bragged that “if the IRS uses Sonasoft products to back-up their servers why wouldn’t you choose them?” So if the Obama administration did back-up their emails systems, what happened to Lois Lerner’s emails?
The House Ways and Means Committee, along with their colleagues on the House Government Oversight Committee, have done an admirable job in investigating the actions of the IRS. Without their leadership, it is likely this matter would have been blown off, never received national headlines. But it is clear that the deeper congressional investigators dive, more and more incriminating evidence is found — or in the case of the Lerner emails, disappeared.
The American public, specifically American taxpayers, cannot sit by and simply accept this administration’s excuses. They have tried time and again to sweep this infringement of constitutionally guaranteed rights under a rug, mocking anyone who attempts to shine a light on the Obama administration’s overreach.
That is why it is time for a special prosecutor be named and empowered to follow the evidence wherever it leads. This scandal has proven to be anything but “phony.” Only an independent, special prosecutor authorized to fully investigate the actions of government officials — whether at the IRS, the Treasury Department, or even the White House — can give American taxpayers the assurance that such targeting will never happen again.
To do otherwise would simply be taking our daily dose of crazy pills.
Nick Ryan is the founder of American Future Fund.