Lois Lerner Plays the Victim
Former IRS official Lois Lerner -- infamous for her role in harassing tea party and liberty groups, then covering it up -- is still the subject of litigation. But according to court filings, Lerner and Holly Paz argue that it would be far too dangerous for them to testify in open court:
Lois Lerner and Holly Paz both have argued in recent court filings that the threat to their lives outweighs the public's right to hear their testimony about how IRS employees in Cincinnati and Washington D.C. handled applications for tax-exempt status from tea party groups.
They recently filed evidence to support their claim under seal in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati. Though that evidence has not been made public, court records indicate it relates to death threats and other harassment the women say they endured after their names were connected to the bias claims against the IRS several years ago.
"This documentation, as the court will see, makes very personal references and contains graphic, profane and disturbing language that would lead to unnecessary intrusion and embarrassment if made public," their attorneys argued in a recent court brief. "Public dissemination of their deposition testimony would put their lives in serious jeopardy."
We do not doubt that both women have been subjected to ugly smears and threats. The current state of our public discourse almost guarantees it. However, for Lerner and Paz to play the victim card, after essentially weaponizing the IRS to silence President Obama's political enemies, strikes us as the far greater wrong.
As National Review's Ian Tuttle reminds us:
In the lead-up to the 2012 election, agents in the IRS’s Tax Exempt Division systematically harassed conservative nonprofit groups, or groups critical of President Obama. Their applications for tax-exempt status were delayed or denied. Their members had their Facebook posts scrutinized, their family members’ political ambitions questioned, the content of their prayers examined. Some groups were audited. The National Organization for Marriage had its donor list leaked to political opponents. Then, when this scheme was discovered, IRS agents stonewalled Congress and federal investigators, hard drives mysteriously went missing, and the IRS destroyed tens of thousands of pertinent e-mails under congressional subpoena.
The head of the Tax Exempt Division through most of these shenanigans was Lois Lerner, who walked away from it all with a $129,000 bonus and a pension. Her second-in-command was Paz, who as head of the Office of Rulings and Agreements oversaw determinations of tax-exempt organizations.
Lerner and her deputy, Paz, harassed, sitgmatized, and bullied individuals whose only sin was to have political opinions different from their own. Their malicious use of federal power does not justify death threats -- far from it.
But their behavior does require a full and fair examination in open court.