Former IRS official Lois Lerner and her deputy, who were embroiled in a scandal for targeting Tea Party groups during the Obama Administration, have asked for a federal court to keep their testimonies a secret from the public forever. The materials included tapes and transcripts of their depositions that have been sealed so far because of apparent “death threats.”
Court documents stated that Lerner and her deputy, Holly Paz, faced “death threats and harassment” when they were in the media spotlight. The court believes “Returning Mss. Lerner and Paz to the media spotlight places them at risk, regardless of what they actually said in those depositions.” The court also stated that it believes comments made by Tea Party leader Mark Meckler about the lawsuit at a Tea Party event have created a “fertile environment where threats” against them have “flourished.”
The IRS admitted to applying extra scrutiny to conservative groups applying for nonprofit status in 2013. It, therefore, begs the question why Lerner and Paz would feel the need to keep the documents secret when it is a well-known fact that they were at the helm of the discriminatory operation.
In fact, keeping the court documents sealed has already ignited a firestorm of criticism on social media. Meckler told the Washington Times: “For the record, I don’t think she’s genuinely scared.” Laughing upon hearing about the filing, Meckler said: “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?”, referring to his speech.
The Justice Department entered into settlements with the Tea Party groups whose tax-exempt status was significantly delayed by the IRS since 2013 because of criteria created that involved the organizations’ viewpoint and ideology. The settlements involved payments to the plaintiffs totaling $3.5 million and an apology from the IRS.