IRS discloses new Lois Lerner email account

IRS discloses new Lois Lerner email account
© Greg Nash

A conservative group said Tuesday it was "remarkable" that the Obama administration is only just disclosing a personal email account that former IRS official Lois Lerner used for official business.

The group, Judicial Watch, is suing the IRS for documents about the agency's improper scrutiny of Tea Party groups. 

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In a new court filing on Monday, a Justice Department lawyer disclosed that Lerner, the central figure in that controversy, could have used an account with the name "Toby Miles" for some of the emails covered by the lawsuit. Lerner's husband is named Michael Miles.

Tom Fitton, Judicial Watch's president, said in a statement Tuesday that he couldn't fathom why the Obama administration "waited two years" to tell the court about the email address, and insisted that the IRS "has obstructed this court’s orders to get Lois Lerner’s emails recovered and searched."

Congressional investigators have known for at least a year about Lerner's use of the Toby Miles email account. The House Ways and Means Committee cited an email from the account when it referred Lerner to the Justice Department for prosecution in April 2014. At the time, the committee noted Lerner's husband's last name, but said "the source of the name 'Toby' is not known."

The Ways and Means panel urged the Justice Department at the time to investigate whether Lerner's use of the private email account endangered private taxpayer return information, something punishable by up to five years in prison.

The federal judge presiding over Judicial Watch's lawsuit threatened to hold the IRS commissioner, John Koskinen, in contempt of court after the agency didn't follow through on production of documents.