In an effort to “shed light on government misconduct,” last week, Judicial Watch asked a federal court to unseal the depositions of Lois Lerner, the former director of the Exempt Organizations Unit at the Internal Revenue Service, and Holly Paz, Lerner’s top aide and former IRS director of the Office of Rulings and Agreements.
Both were instrumental in the targeting of conservative nonprofit organizations which opposed Obama prior to the 2012 presidential election.
Judicial Watch filed an amicus curiae brief request in support of the NorCal Tea Party Patriots’ class action lawsuit, seeking the unsealing of the depositions.
The transcripts were sealed by a federal judge after Lerner and Paz’s lawyers claimed the two were receiving threats.
Judicial Watch contends that the depositions might reveal government misconduct and that withholding internal government deliberations is not in the best interest of the public.
Judicial Watch outlined how the Lerner and Paz depositions might significantly impact the organization’s ongoing lawsuits which seek information about the misconduct of government officials in the IRS’ targeting scandal.
“In addition to the revelation of IRS employees’ conduct in the emails uncovered, the records obtained by Judicial Watch (in the course of its FOIA investigation) also sparked investigations into Lois Lerner’s emails and IRS’ failure to preserve thousands of emails that were potentially relevant to the various investigations about the IRS’ treatment of conservative groups. While the federal government has now admitted that the targeting ‘was wrong’ and ‘for such treatment, the IRS expresses its sincere apology’ the IRS continues to this day to withhold from the public in Judicial Watch’s main IRS case … email communications with Lois Lerner and/or Holly Paz …”
In July 2016, Judicial Watch revealed that Lerner and Paz were aware that the IRS was specifically targeting conservative groups two years prior to disclosing the wrongdoing to Congress and the public. Lerner and Paz were also aware that donor lists of tax-exempt organizations were being used to target those donors for audits by the IRS.
The IRS initially refused to acknowledge the targeting of conservative organizations but was forced by Judicial Watch to admit that the agency had used “inappropriate political labels” to screen the tax-exempt applications of those groups. IRS agents utilized “guilt by association” and “party affiliation” to identify conservative organizations requesting tax-exempt status.
Judicial Watch also revealed that the IRS planned to require 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations to restrict their political activities in order to receive “expedited consideration” of their applications for tax exemption.
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