Conservatives Reject IRS Request to Keep Tea Party Targeting Secret

(Brendan Kirby, Lifezette) Conservative leaders on Monday blasted a request by a pair of former top IRS officials for a court order to keep sealed their testimony related to the agency’s targeting scandal.

IRS Director Lois Lerner photo

Lois Lerner/photo by (CC)

Lois Lerner and her deputy Holly Paz cited fears for their personal safety in asking a federal judge last week to keep tapes and transcripts of their depositions secret from the public.

Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of True the Vote, told LifeZette that her organization is still fighting in court four years after filing a lawsuit challenging the IRS over how it processed the voter integrity organization’s application for tax-exempt status.

“We’re still battling,” she said. “Our case has not been settled. Frankly, I’m growing weary talking about injustices that Lerner and that whole motley crew feels like have been inflicted on them.”


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True the Vote was one of a number of conservative organizations that accused the IRS of applying different standards in scrutinizing applications for 501(c)(3) status during former President Barack Obama’s administration.

Lerner was the director of the Exempt Organizations Unit at the IRS, which was in charge of such reviews. Paz was her top deputy.

Engelbrecht said they suffered no consequences for their actions.

“They didn’t get fired,” she said. “In fact, they got bonuses and paid leave. There has been no accountability … They are the untouchable class.”

Lerner and Paz offered sworn testimony as part of lawsuits filed by Tea Party groups and other targeted organizations.

“Whenever Ms. Lerner and Paz have been in the media spotlight, they have faced death threats and harassment,” attorneys for the women wrote. “Returning Ms. Lerner and Paz to the media spotlight places them at risk, regardless of what they actually said in those depositions.”

The request cites comments from Tea Party leader Mark Meckler, who referred to IRS officials as “thugs.”

Michael Johns, president and executive director of Tea Party Community, said the request is outrageous.

“There are so many comparable situations where public officials have gone through similar things,” he said. “What she [Lerner] said in that testimony is very germane to people in the Tea Party movement who were targeted.”

Johns said his organization is structured differently from other Tea Party groups and thus avoided being targeted by the IRS. But he said the IRS has never been held to full account for its conduct. He said it is part of a pattern by officials in President Donald Trump’s administration to overlook the transgressions of its predecessors.

He said that also applies to the Justice Department’s apparent lack of interest in investigating 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s role in approving a Russian company’s acquisition of American uranium reserves and donations to the family-run Clinton Foundation.

“It’s somewhat concerning that the administration has not taken this and the Hillary Clinton situation more seriously from a criminal justice standpoint,” he said.

The Justice Department last month settled lawsuits with a number of organizations whose tax-exempt status was delayed. The settlement included payments to the groups and an IRS apology.

But Engelbrecht said the government has yet to put safeguards into place to ensure there is not a repeat of ideological viewpoint discrimination.

“I’m growing weary of talking about it knowing that there’s nothing that would prevent any of it from happening again,” she said.

Republished with permission from LifeZette via iCopyright license