Not a smidgen
None dare call it corruption. No, wait, I do! A private company's IT staff would be crucified.
Investigators at the Internal Revenue Service are looking to agency employees as the reason thousands of emails from former IRS official Lois Lerner were lost, and the agency's watchdog said today their actions were a mistake.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) J. Russell George testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and told lawmakers IRS employees erased 422 backup tapes that housed 24,000 emails sent to and from Lerner.
Employees erased the contents of the tapes just a month after IRS officials were told that thousands of Lerner's emails were missing because of a hard drive crash.
In his testimony, George said he "did not uncover evidence that the erasure was done in furtherance of an effort to destroy evidence or conceal information from Congress and/or law enforcement."
Additionally, the IRS watchdog noted that it's likely the employees didn't know about a 2013 directive instructing them not to destroy such email backup tapes during the investigation.
Oh. Well, allright then. I guess everything is tickety-boo.
Posted by John Kranz at June 7, 2016 9:11 AM
Intent is irrelevant. Evidence of intent is unnecessary. Whether intentional, reckless or negligent, this is a case of spoliation of evidence and a finder of fact can make a "negative evidentiary inference" i.e. the defendant is guilty as hell.
This procedure was tested in a 2013 Texas case. TX Supreme Court reversed a trial court concluding "that a spoliation inference instruction to the jury is only warranted in egregious cases of destruction of relevant evidence."
Who could contend that "422 backup tapes" erased is not egregious?
As for the "employees didn't know" argument:
Companies and organizations often attempt to avoid spoliation of evidence (or being accused or held liable therewith) by using a legal hold. Often, the legal departments of the company or organization will issue a prescribed order to the relevant employees to retain and preserve their discoverable materials (such as e-mails and documents).
IRS officers are also, therefore, "guilty as hell."