Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

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July 5, 2014

At the IRS, stuff just happens

Lois Lerner managed to contain her disappointment when she learned in 2011 that she had lost two years’ worth of e-mails — forever.

After being told that her data was being sent to the “hard drive cemetery,” never to return, Lerner replied with philosophical equanimity, “Sometimes stuff just happens.”

Yes, the IRS is incredibly susceptible to stuff happening.

First, it happened when the agency singled out the applications of conservative groups for special scrutiny and delayed their applications for tax-exempt status prior to the 2012 elections.

Then it happened when then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman went before Congress in March 2012 and denied that the targeting was taking place.

It kept happening last year, when Lerner arranged to reveal the targeting via a planted question at a tax conference, and proceeded to falsely blame a few rogue employees in the Cincinnati office.

It is still happening now, as the IRS failed to tell Congress about the missing Lerner e-mails until two weeks ago.

So much stuff happens at the IRS that top officials must routinely break mirrors, open umbrellas indoors and spill salt.

They set out to fairly administer the nation’s tax laws and through a series of bad breaks ended up applying them lopsidedly against their ideological enemies.

They intended to cooperate fully and frankly with investigations into their unfair practices; through circumstances beyond their control, they haven’t pulled it off.

Lerner had her computer meltdown in June 2011, around the time Sen. Orrin Hatch and Rep. Dave Camp asked the IRS about its treatment of the primary donors to one conservative 501(c)(4) group — in retrospect, one of the first signs of targeting conservatives.

That the e-mails were lost beyond recovery will strike most people as implausible, because it is practically an axiom of modern life that e-mails never go away.

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