Lois Lerner, the IRS official at the center of the agency's targeting of tea party groups for special scrutiny, went before a federal judge last week to ask that her testimony in the matter remain sealed in perpetuity.
The testimony in question is in class action suits brought by tea party groups and the Washington times reports that Lerner and her deputy Holly Paz fear that the content "could spur an enraged public to retaliate."
The IRS stonewalled Congress and this may be our last opportunity to know what went on behind the public's back in an agency that supposedly works for us. Lerner blamed overzealous employees in a branch bureau for the targeting operation before heading off into well-compensated early retirement.
It has been plausibly suggested that the targeting of these groups had an effect on the results of the 2012 presidential election so this is not a small bureaucratic snafu. The truth about this scandal is not something that should remain hidden in a bureaucracy that treats some members of the public (i.e., the people who employ them) like dirt.
The Washington Times quotes their lawyers:
“Whenever Mss. Lerner and Paz have been in the media spotlight, they have faced death threats and harassment,” attorneys for the two women argued.
We don't want Ms. Lerner or Ms. Paz to be harassed and of course their safety should be protected. However, this is a sneaky rationale for sealing the testimony–it puts the onus on the public. The public is so crummy that it will harass Lerner and Paz. But the onus is on Lerner and Paz: What did they say? it must have been pretty incendiary if they want it sealed in perpetuity.
The government admitted illegal actions in two tea party lawsuits and according to a source quoted in the newspaper one Ohio plaintiff said the tea party groups were awarded $3.5 million. The government–the taxpayers–will pay for this illegal activity. Glad to see justice done, but we have every right to know what Lerner and Paz said before the court.