Lois Lerner, former IRS executive, is calling for tapes and transcripts given to the court earlier this year to remain sealed in perpetuity, reports The Washington Times.
Lerner, along with her deputy at the IRS, Holly Paz, are calling for this due to members of her family being threatened and at risk for real physical harm based on her explanation of the tea party targeting scandal.
The news comes after Lerner and Paz taped depositions in a class-action lawsuit regarding tea party groups that are demanding answers and compensation for being subjected to “illegal targeting for their political beliefs.”
“The government settled the class-action lawsuit in Ohio and another tea party challenge in the District of Columbia in two agreements last month, admitting to the illegal behavior. The Ohio settlement also called for the government to pay $3.5 million to the tea party groups, according to one of the plaintiffs.”
Not only did Lerner fail to stop the targeting, but she also hid it from her superiors in Washington. During the case, testimony from Lerner and Paz was left out of public record due to an earlier request for privacy. Because the case has been settled, Lerner and Paz believe that their testimony should not ever become public.
“’The voluminous record of harassment and physical threats to Ms. Lernerand Paz and their families during the pendency of this litigation provides a compelling reason to seal the materials,’ the women’s attorneys said.”
Mark Meckler was blamed for “help[ing] stoke the threats against them by calling IRS agents ‘criminal thugs’.” Meckler’s organization helped fund the lawsuit.
Meckler found the whole situation comical.
“’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?’ he said, recounting the speech where he called IRS agents ‘thugs.'”
Meckler said the depositions don’t show any bad action on the two womens’ part, and they should have nothing to fear should the deposition be released to the public.
“’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,’ Mr. Meckler said.”
The Trump administration is in favor of the documents being released to the public. However, the two do have Judge Michael R Barrett on their side. Barrett kept their deposition secret during the trial, even redacting parts when the tea party groups made reference to their testimony in documents.
The Cincinnati Enquirer, the newspaper that initially handled the tea party groups’ applications, has been fighting to make Lerner’s version of the events public. The paper renewed that request last month and has argued that there is no “clear and imminent danger” to Lerner or Paz.
Lerner has refused to talk about her handling of the tea party cases. She even was held in contempt of Congress when she “botched her assertion of Fifth Amendments rights during testimony.”
However, the under President Obama, the Justice Department concluded that Lerner was within her rights to plead the fifth. The department even went as far as to refer to Lerner as one of the “bright spots”, saying she attempted to stop the targeting.
The government now says that this statement was not true. Lerner did not stop the targeting and even hid the information from her superiors.