The IRS has agreed to hand over all of former agency official Lois Lerner’s emails to the House Ways and Means Committee, the panel said Thursday.

{mosads}Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) called the emails critical to the committee’s investigation of the IRS’s improper scrutiny of Tea Party groups, and chided the agency for taking so long to release them.

The announcement comes a day after the House held Lerner, the official at the center of the controversy, in contempt of Congress and just short of a year after Lerner first acknowledged and apologized for the IRS’s singling out of conservative groups.

“While it is good that we are finally getting these emails, it should never have taken this long,” Camp said in a statement. “The agency is finally doing what is right and hopefully this is the last of the delays.” 

“It is almost a year to the day since Lois Lerner ‘apologized’ for the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups, and we need to get to the bottom of this.” 

The IRS had said that it was trying to give congressional investigators only the most relevant of Lerner’s emails, saying it would be both time-consuming for the agency to produce the emails and would give lawmakers many unnecessary documents.

The Ways and Means Committee has already received some 660,000 of Lerner’s emails, and Democrats have noted that the IRS already has spent some $14 million responding to congressional requests.

House Republicans have intensified their interest in the IRS, an issue important among their conservative base, in recent months and leading up to November’s midterm elections.

The House also urged Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS on Wednesday, and Republicans on the Ways and Means panel have said the Justice Department should take a second look at whether Lerner should face a variety of criminal charges.

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