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The IRS scandal: Outrageous twist

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The IRS targeting scandal's latest twists are outrageously hard to believe, making the need for sweeping reform by Congress outrageously obvious.

The agency informed congressional investigators Friday last that a 2011 hard-drive crash wiped out two years' worth of emails between other federal agencies and Lois Lerner, then heading the IRS division that subjected tea party groups' tax-exemption applications to extra scrutiny. On Tuesday, the IRS said the emails of six others also can't be found. Experts say that's possible though fantastical. But even if the crash did such a thing, why did it take the IRS so long to divulge it?

Supposedly gone are Ms. Lerner's emails with the White House, the departments of Treasury and Justice, the Federal Election Commission and other agencies of the Obama administration for 2009-11 — “the critical years of the targeting of conservative groups,” according to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich. Without those emails, he says, “we are conveniently left to believe that Lois Lerner acted alone.”

Supposed crash aside, says Lerner violated IRS rules if she didn't keep paper email copies. Attorney General Eric Holder's March refusal to name a special prosecutor surely looks even more like part of a cover-up now.

But accountability for past misconduct is only part of what's needed. Besides breaking its deadlock with the stonewalling IRS, Congress must do whatever it takes to rein in the long-rogue IRS.

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