Political Editors / December 12, 2017

‘Exceedingly Low’ Public Interest in IRS Tea Party Scandal?

Former IRS official argues that her deposition should remain permanently sealed because no one cares.

The former senior executive at the Internal Revenue Service’s tax-exempt division, Lois Lerner, and her chief lieutenant, Holly Paz, are pulling out every excuse in the book in their attempt to keep their deposition permanently sealed and out of the public eye. They have previously argued that their testimony should remain sealed out of fear for their safety, and now they are arguing that due to “exceedingly low” public interest the deposition should remain confidential. Lerner and Paz’s lawyers said, “The public disclosure of this personal and sensitive information and details of the harassment would further no legitimate end while undermining substantial privacy and physical safety interests.”

Any individual who chooses a career in public service must understand that they are ultimately answerable to the public. And transparency is an essential element in maintaining the public’s trust in government officials. It is not for Lerner or Paz to arbitrarily determine what level of public interest meets the standard for triggering the release of their testimony, especially given the fact that the government has admitted wrongdoing in the IRS’ illegally targeting of Tea Party groups.

Honestly, Lerner’s excuse for sealing her testimony would be funny if the context wasn’t such an egregious display of government abuse. Her argument goes something like, “I’m scared that people will hate me more if they hear my testimony, which no one really cares to hear so don’t let them hear it.” What, are we in middle school here? The real question is, what are they seeking to hide?

Mark Meckler, a Tea Party leader who has long led the class action lawsuit drive, responded that sealing Lerner and Paz’s testimony would “set an outrageous legal precedent, allowing the testimony of egregious acts by public servants to be permanently hidden.” In fact, he continued, “The irony of this argument is astounding. The government has admitted that these people unconstitutionally targeted people based on their political beliefs. Now the individuals most responsible for the targeting wish to finish off their secret scheme to illegally target their fellow citizens, in secrecy.”

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