Merry Christmas Lois: Judicial Watch has a present for you — and many of us across America can’t wait until you open it. Just this week JW filed an Amicus Curiae brief asking a Federal Court to unseal the depositions of former IRS official Lois Lerner and her top aide Holly Paz. Lerner, the former director of the Exempt Organizations Unit of the IRS and Paz, were involved in the targeting of conservative nonprofit groups for a number of years during the Obama administration.
Liberty Nation’s parent organization One Generation Away was a recipient of Ms. Lerner’s largesse and part of the class action suit recently settled by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The entire, sordid affair is chronicled here.
Just this week, Judicial Watch filed its brief with the U. S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Western Division supporting NorCal Tea Party Patriots’ class action suit. The tea party is seeking to unseal the depositions of Lerner and Paz. Both were sealed by a federal judge after their attorneys argued that the two women were receiving personal threats.
But these depositions are important as they can (and likely do) reveal the women’s role and alleged misconduct in the IRS targeting scandal.
If you are not familiar with the case, hundreds of conservative and even a few leftist organizations seeking IRS status as a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization had their applications toyed with and held up – sometimes for years –in an effort to receive classification as a non-profit. Some parties, like Liberty Nation’s parent, OneGen.org paid tens of thousands of dollars to free themselves from the targeting tentacles of the IRS back when Ms. Lerner was at the head of the food chain for such applications.
Judicial Watch revealed that both women “knew the agency was specifically targeting “Tea Party” and other conservative organizations two full years before disclosing it to Congress and the public. They also knew donor lists of tax-exempt organizations were being used to target those donors for audits.”
So much for freedom of speech and the First Amendment. Judicial Watch was at the forefront of shedding light on the IRS scandal and obtained documents under a court order that showed, “Lerner, Justice Department officials and the FBI planned for the possible criminal prosecution of targeted nonprofit organizations for alleged illegal political activity.”
Of course, at first, the IRS refused even to acknowledge such a conspiracy to criminalize an organization’s political speech ever existed. But eventually – much of it through the relentless grinding of Judicial Watch – they admitted that “the agency had used “inappropriate political labels” to screen the tax-exempt applications of conservative organizations. IRS agents were targeting organizations requesting tax-exempt status based on “guilt by association” and “party affiliation.”
Wow! Just think of it. These people were gunning for criminal prosecution of those who held political beliefs antithetical to theirs. JW President Tom Fitton remarked:
“In a republic, citizens have a right to know what their government is up to, especially when officials abuse the powers entrusted to them,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “This effort to seal Lois Lerner and Holly Paz depositions for all time is an affront to the rule of law and government accountability.
And affront indeed. As of this writing, Ms. Lerner sits in her posh Maryland home on a government pension and has yet to be prosecuted, indicted or even sanctioned for her many iniquitous actions while in a position of power. In a civil society, everyone is theoretically equal under the law. And that is precisely the issue here. Thus far, that equality in the case of Lois Lerner is only theoretical. Perhaps when she opens her Christmas present from Judicial Watch, that theory will become a reality.
A widely published columnist, Leesa previously worked in the broadcast news industry as a television news anchor, reporter, and producer at NBC, CBS and Fox affiliates in Charlotte, Pittsburgh, and Washington, DC.She is the author of "Free At Last: A Life-Changing Journey through the Gospel of Luke."