- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Lois G. Lerner used yet another private email account to do government business, the IRS revealed in a court filing late Monday that tries to clear up confusion over the former agency executive’s email practices.

At least 400 messages were sent or received from the newly revealed account, IRS lawyers said — though they insisted those messages were already part of the tens of thousands turned over to Congress.

The lawyers withheld the name and address of the new account, but said it’s different than the “Toby Miles” account they revealed in a previous court filing last week. That account, the IRS now says, is actually just a different alias for Ms. Lerner’s main personal account.

But the 400 messages came from a secondary account the agency is just now making public.

“The undersigned attorneys have now confirmed that Lerner also sent or received work-related emails from a second personal email account,” Geoffrey J. Klimas and Stephanie Sasarak, two Justice Department lawyers representing the IRS in the case, told Judge Emmet G. Sullivan.

The revelation is the latest twist in an open records lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch, a public interest law firm that has prodded the IRS to release Ms. Lerner’s emails.

Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said the agency’s latest explanation continues a pattern of making it difficult to understand what went on with the Lerner emails.

“Once again they’re moving the goalposts. It’s not so much misleading the public, which is troublesome. It’s that the court can’t rely on their representations,” Mr. Fitton said.

“It is confusing, and I think purposely so,” he said.

Judicial Watch is seeking records detailing any talks between the IRS and Congress about the tea party targeting. The IRS said it has gone back and redone the search now to see if any of Ms. Lerner’s 400 messages from her second personal email address were implicated, but said nothing new was found.

The IRS, in an agency statement, said Ms. Lerner’s messages have already been processed and sent to congressional investigators, who were probing the broader tea party-targeting scandal.

“It’s important to keep in mind that emails and other information being shared with Judicial Watch through the FOIA process have already been released to Congress,” the agency said. “This information has been reviewed by Congressional committees as part of their investigations, and much of this has been included in their various public reports.”

Ms. Lerner is a central figure in the tea party-targeting scandal, which saw the tax agency delay conservative groups’ nonprofit status applications for years, while prodding them with inappropriate questions. Ms. Lerner retired from the agency months after the behavior was revealed, and after she invoked her right against self-incrimination in declining to testify to Congress.

The revelations about Ms. Lerner’s email come as the Obama administration is facing scrutiny over other top officials’ use of private emails for government business — a practice that, while not illegal at the time, was frowned upon and was supposed to be done under strict rules.

Messages sent from personal accounts were supposed to be forwarded to accounts on official government servers so they could be archived properly and made available for congressional investigations, subpoenas or open records requests under the Freedom of Information Act.

In Mrs. Clinton’s case, she didn’t turn her messages back over to the government until nearly two years after she left office, when she was prodded by the congressional probe into the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack.

For Ms. Lerner, it’s unclear how much she used her personal email accounts for business. The messages that have been made public were captured because she included official government addresses in the chain.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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