According to House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, the missing emails to and from former IRS official Lois Lerner represent just a portion of a much larger problem within the Obama administration.
While the supposed hard drive crash that destroyed Lerner’s records hindered the House investigation into alleged targeting of conservative groups by the IRS, Issa explained that other inquiries are being hamstrung by another similar loss of data. Furthermore, he lamented the fact that his committee was not notified of the deleted emails until well after he had issued a subpoena for them.
The loss came as a result of one administration official, Marilynn Tavenner of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, who reportedly failed to back up her email correspondences in accordance with the law, Issa explained. The correspondences were requested as part of an ongoing ObamaCare investigation in the House.
“The Obama administration has lost or destroyed emails for more than 20 witnesses,” he said, “and in each case, the loss wasn’t disclosed to the National Archives or Congress for months or years, in violation of federal law.”
In its eventual disclosure, the agency wrote to the National Archives and Records Administration with an apparent excuse for her failure to maintain copies of relevant emails.
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“During her entire tenure at CMS,” the notification stated, “Ms. Tavenner’s CMS email address, which is accessible to both colleagues and the public, has been subject to write-in campaigns involving thousands of emails from the public.”
In an effort to “keep an orderly email box,” the agency continued, “the administrator generally copied or forwarded emails to immediate staff for retention and retrieval, and did not maintain her own copies.”
Issa is apparently not satisfied, particularly regarding the fact that the announcement came nearly a year after he subpoenaed the records.
“It defies logic that so many senior Administration officials were found to have ignored federal recordkeeping requirements only after Congress asked to see their emails,” he stated.
He concluded that a request for the data just last week did not elicit confirmation that the emails were lost.
“Even at that point, the administration did not inform us that there was a problem with Ms. Tavenner’s emails history,” he said. “Yet again, we discover that this administration will not be forthright with the American people unless cornered.”