Judicial Watch seeks to uncover secret Lois Lerner testimony

The weaponization of the IRS to suppress the organization of conservative nonprofits when the Tea Party movement was in full bloom remains an open sore on our democratic political system.  The weight of the most feared agency of the federal government was used to suppress a political movement.  Despite the payment of millions of taxpayer dollars to groups that were prevented from getting their status approved because their politics were disagreeable to the incumbent president and his supporters in the federal bureaucracy, the damage cannot be undone, and the perpetrators have suffered no judicial consequences.  Lois Lerner, the point woman who invoked the Fifth Amendment in her testimony before Congress, was able to retire with a fat pension and no jail time.

Even worse, the testimony she gave in deposition in a key lawsuit remains sealed by the order of a judge who heard claims of Lerner and her deputy Holly Paz that they had received threats.

Judicial Watch (donate here, please!) thinks we, the people have a right to know what testimony she gave under oath.

Judicial Watch last week asked a federal court to unseal the depositions of Lois Lerner, the former director of the Exempt Organizations Unit of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and Holly Paz, her top aide and former IRS director of Office of Rulings and Agreements. Both played key roles in the targeting of conservative nonprofit groups opposed to Obama policies in the run up to the 2012 presidential election.

The request came in an amicus curiae brief filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Western Division supporting NorCal Tea Party Patriots' class action lawsuit seeking the unsealing of the depositions (NorCal Tea Party Patriots, et al. v. The Internal Revenue Service, et al. (No. 1:13-cv-00341)). The depositions were sealed by a federal judge after Lerner's and Paz's lawyers claimed the two were receiving threats. Judicial Watch's brief argues that the documents sought may shed light on government misconduct, and the shielding of internal government deliberations does not serve the public's interest. (snip)

In addition to the revelation of IRS employees' conduct in the emails uncovered, the records obtained by Judicial Watch [in the course of its FOIA investigation] also sparked investigations into Lois Lerner's emails and IRS' failure to preserve thousands of emails that were potentially relevant to the various investigations about the IRS' treatment of conservative groups. While the federal government has now admitted that the targeting "was wrong" and "for such treatment, the IRS expresses its sincere apology" the IRS continues to this day to withhold from the public in Judicial Watch's main IRS case … email communications with Lois Lerner and/or Holly Paz[.]

The IRS does not have clean hands in the matter of revealing critical information:

In response to Judicial Watch's litigation, the IRS initially claimed that emails belonging to Lerner were supposedly missing. Later, IRS officials conceded that the "missing" emails were on IRS back-up systems.  Throughout its litigation, Judicial Watch repeatedly exposed a variety of IRS record keeping inconsistencies, erroneous claims, and failures to produce court-ordered records:

Preventing the public – and the Judicial Watch litigants – from access to all information about this major abuse of government power is ridiculous.  I hope the ruling is reversed, and we get to hear what Lerner had to say.

The weaponization of the IRS to suppress the organization of conservative nonprofits when the Tea Party movement was in full bloom remains an open sore on our democratic political system.  The weight of the most feared agency of the federal government was used to suppress a political movement.  Despite the payment of millions of taxpayer dollars to groups that were prevented from getting their status approved because their politics were disagreeable to the incumbent president and his supporters in the federal bureaucracy, the damage cannot be undone, and the perpetrators have suffered no judicial consequences.  Lois Lerner, the point woman who invoked the Fifth Amendment in her testimony before Congress, was able to retire with a fat pension and no jail time.

Even worse, the testimony she gave in deposition in a key lawsuit remains sealed by the order of a judge who heard claims of Lerner and her deputy Holly Paz that they had received threats.

Judicial Watch (donate here, please!) thinks we, the people have a right to know what testimony she gave under oath.

Judicial Watch last week asked a federal court to unseal the depositions of Lois Lerner, the former director of the Exempt Organizations Unit of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and Holly Paz, her top aide and former IRS director of Office of Rulings and Agreements. Both played key roles in the targeting of conservative nonprofit groups opposed to Obama policies in the run up to the 2012 presidential election.

The request came in an amicus curiae brief filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Western Division supporting NorCal Tea Party Patriots' class action lawsuit seeking the unsealing of the depositions (NorCal Tea Party Patriots, et al. v. The Internal Revenue Service, et al. (No. 1:13-cv-00341)). The depositions were sealed by a federal judge after Lerner's and Paz's lawyers claimed the two were receiving threats. Judicial Watch's brief argues that the documents sought may shed light on government misconduct, and the shielding of internal government deliberations does not serve the public's interest. (snip)

In addition to the revelation of IRS employees' conduct in the emails uncovered, the records obtained by Judicial Watch [in the course of its FOIA investigation] also sparked investigations into Lois Lerner's emails and IRS' failure to preserve thousands of emails that were potentially relevant to the various investigations about the IRS' treatment of conservative groups. While the federal government has now admitted that the targeting "was wrong" and "for such treatment, the IRS expresses its sincere apology" the IRS continues to this day to withhold from the public in Judicial Watch's main IRS case … email communications with Lois Lerner and/or Holly Paz[.]

The IRS does not have clean hands in the matter of revealing critical information:

In response to Judicial Watch's litigation, the IRS initially claimed that emails belonging to Lerner were supposedly missing. Later, IRS officials conceded that the "missing" emails were on IRS back-up systems.  Throughout its litigation, Judicial Watch repeatedly exposed a variety of IRS record keeping inconsistencies, erroneous claims, and failures to produce court-ordered records:

Preventing the public – and the Judicial Watch litigants – from access to all information about this major abuse of government power is ridiculous.  I hope the ruling is reversed, and we get to hear what Lerner had to say.

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