Former IRS executive Lois Lerner is citing potential threats to her safety in launching an effort to permanently seal testimony she offered regarding the agency’s improper targeting of conservative groups.
As Fox News reported, Lerner and her top aide, Holly Paz, filed court paperwork arguing that “public dissemination of their deposition testimony would expose them and their families to harassment and a credible risk of violence and physical harm.”
The document went on to cite alleged “death threats and harassment” the two IRS officials have received in connection with their reported involvement in the scandal.
“Returning Mss. Lerner and Paz to the media spotlight places them at risk, regardless of what they actually said in those depositions,” the court document stated.
One recent report, however, calls into question whether there is actually any reason for Lerner and Paz to fear for their safety.
According to The Washington Times, the latest threats cited were at least three years old, leading a lawyer for the tea party organizations affected by IRS targeting to ask the court to overrule the request.
“The instances of harassment they allege last occurred in early 2014, despite more than three years of litigation since then,” said Edward D. Greim.
His court filing asked the court to “deny the request by Lerner and Paz to seal court records and open the docket for public inspection.”
As of now, the details of both depositions remain secret, as are some of the related passages in the subsequent court battle over keeping them sealed.
Greim, however, argues that the only way to fully resolve the issue is through transparency.
A decision on whether the testimony will be made public is the final aspect of the case to be resolved following settlements reached earlier this year between the Trump administration and the affected conservative groups.
“Lerner and Paz might not have been the puppet masters, but they were the puppeteers: exercising direct control over the strings of government used to target plaintiffs and the class,” Greim wrote.
He went on to state that those impacted by the actions of Lerner and Paz “must know the contents of their testimony to consider the fairness of the settlement, and the public must have access to help ensure that similar conduct never occurs again.”
As part of its coverage of the IRS settlement, the Cincinnati Enquirer made a similar request.
The paper reported in October that it had “filed a motion asking for that seal to be lifted.”
Lerner and Paz testified before U.S. District Court Judge Michael R. Barrett in Cincinnati.
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George C. Upper III
The Western Journal