Details about tea party bias claims against the IRS could remain secret because current and former agency officials say their lives are in danger if they publicly testify about the case.
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."
Attorneys for the tea party groups suing the IRS say the argument against full disclosure doesn't hold up. They asked the court Wednesday to make the IRS officials' testimony public and to also open a May 19 hearing to the public.