Washington • The White House said Wednesday it has found no emails between any person in the executive office of the president and a top Internal Revenue Service official who has been connected to the improper scrutiny of political groups.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the White House searched for all communications between former IRS official Lois Lerner and executive office personnel. "We found zero emails," he said.
He said the search discovered three emails in which a third party emailed both Lerner and executive office staff. He said one was spam and two others were from a person seeking tax assistance. Carney said those emails have been provided to congressional investigators.
The investigation is looking into why the IRS targeted political groups, particularly conservative ones, that sought tax exempt status. Republicans in Congress have been trying to find out whether anyone outside the IRS directed the targeting.
The IRS said last week it had lost an untold number of emails when Lerner’s computer crashed in 2011. Lerner used to head the division that handles applications for tax-exempt status. On Tuesday, two key lawmakers said the IRS has also lost emails from six additional IRS workers whose computers crashed. Among them was Nikole Flax, who was chief of staff to Lerner’s boss, then-deputy commissioner Steven Miller.
Miller later became acting IRS commissioner, but was forced to resign last year after the agency acknowledged that agents had improperly scrutinized tea party and other conservative groups when they applied for tax-exempt status. Documents have shown some liberal groups were also flagged.
The two House committees and the Senate Finance Committee are investigating the IRS over its handling of tea party applications from 2010 to 2012. The Justice Department and the IRS inspector general are also investigating.
Congressional investigators have shown that IRS officials in Washington were closely involved in handling tea party applications, many of which languished for more than a year without action.
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