Lois G. Lerner, the former director of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations Unit, filed court documents on Thursday requesting the sealing in perpetuity of tapes and transcripts of depositions she gave in court this year, Washington Times reports.
Lerner claimed members of her family, including “young children,” have received death threats due to her role in the IRS targeting scandal, in which conservative and tea party groups had their tax-exempt status denied or delayed until after the 2012 election.
The ex-IRS executive and her former deputy, Holly Paz, said they need their testimony permanently sealed to prevent physical retaliation from angered Americans.
“Whenever Mss. Lerner and Paz have been in the media spotlight, they have faced death threats and harassment,” said attorneys for the two women.
Lerner and Paz blamed the alleged threats and harassment on tea party leader Mark Meckler, whose organization, Citizens for Self-Governance, helped fund a class-action lawsuit against the IRS on grounds of Privacy Act violations.
Meckler has called Lerner and Paz “criminal thugs.” Lerner’s attorneys said “These words matter. They have created a fertile environment where threats and harassment against Mss. Lerner and Paz have flourished.”
But Meckler laughs their assertions off. “Four years of harassing innocent American citizens for their political beliefs, and she’s scared of a guy in a cowboy hat talking to a bunch of little old ladies at a tea party event?”
Last month, the Trump administration agreed to settle multiple lawsuits brought against the IRS over the targeting scandal, ultimately paying out $3.5 million to tea party groups. The government also admitted that Lerner not only did not stop the targeting, but hid it from her superiors.
Lerner and Paz argued that because the government has already reached a settlement with the plaintiffs, there is no reason for their testimony to ever be made public.
Meckler rejects the idea of sealing Lerner’s testimony. “The reality is because she knows she is guilty as the day is long and she doesn’t want people to know what she actually did,” he said. “It’s hard to have any sympathy for the women. And frankly, I don’t believe she’s genuinely scared.”
The Trump administration has favored making the testimonies public, although Judge Michael R. Barrett has so far sided with the two women, agreeing to keep their testimonies secret.
Conservatives have been calling for justice in the IRS targeting case for years. If Lerner does not face legal consequences for her actions, many Americans at least hope for her misconduct to be publicly known throughout history.
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