Embattled ex-IRS executive Lois Lerner was in federal court last week, asking a judge to seal her forthcoming deposition due to the inflammatory nature of her testimony.
Lerner told the judge that if her actions at the IRS were to become public knowledge, she could face death threats from angry Americans – particularly those on the conservative side of the spectrum.
Lerner is well-known for her role in the IRS’s partisan targeting of Tea Party groups; under the Obama administration, the IRS singled out nonprofit groups with conservative, Tea Party-ish style names for extra scrutiny. Many of their cases lingered in limbo for years while the IRS pretended to review their applications. Ultimately, there came to be no denying that there was a systematic, political effort inside the IRS to make life as difficult as possible for groups seen as threats to Obama’s agenda.
Lerner and Holly Paz are scheduled to testify in a class action lawsuit against the IRS, which is being brought by 428 groups who were affected by the targeting scandal. But before the pair commit their testimony to record, they want assurances that what they say will never be read by the public.
“Mss. Lerner and Paz have demonstrated that the public dissemination of their deposition testimony would expose them and their families to harassment and a credible risk of violence and physical harm,” their lawyer said in documents to the court.
Reportedly, the women have submitted evidence to the judge that shows they’ve already received threats couched in “graphic, profane, and disturbing language.”
No matter what the judge decides, the request itself has put the IRS scandal back in the headlines, and it comes at a time when Republicans want the Justice Department to re-open the case against Lerner. They say she deliberately obstructed the congressional investigation into the targeting and may have even contributed to it with her snide emails about Republicans.
If Lerner is so terrified about her actions coming to public light, that says it all. If she could reduce her perceived role in all this, she would shout her testimony from the highest mountain. Instead, she has wrapped herself in every layer of secrecy she can find. Either she’s protecting a certain someone higher on the food chain or she’s covering her own behind.
Knowing the Obama administration, we’re guessing it’s a little of both.