The IRS’ inability to locate a trove of emails belonging to Lois Lerner, the former agency official at the center of the department’s targeting scandal is “mind-boggling,” according to an expert in electronic discovery.

Bruce Webster, who has served as a consulting and IT expert in more than 80 civil lawsuits, is astonished by the fact that the IRS could lose two years’ worth of emails.

“It is very well known in both legal and IT circles that as soon as litigation and/or criminal investigation is likely — not actually initiated, but merely likely — it is imperative to preserve any relevant electronic documents, even it if means suspending existing practices of, say, email deletion or purging of backup files,” he explained in an email to

“So, for the IRS to come back and say, ‘we didn’t save those emails on our servers, and the external hard drive that Ms. Lerner used to backup the emails has crashed’ is mind-boggling. In a court of law, that could be considered grounds for finding spoliation of evidence; in other words, even if the loss was inadvertent, it would be considered as deliberate destruction of evidence and sanctioned accordingly.”

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