WASHINGTON, D.C. (Judicial Watch) — Judicial Watch today announced that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio (Western Division) issued an order granting a Judicial Watch motion to file an amicus curiae brief that asks the court to unseal the depositions of former IRS officials Lois Lerner and Holly Paz. The court also granted a hearing to be held Thursday, August 9, at 1 pm ET.
Both Lerner and Paz played key roles in the targeting of conservative nonprofit groups opposed to Obama policies in the run up to the 2012 presidential election. Their depositions were sealed by a federal judge after Lerner’s and Paz’s lawyers claimed the two were receiving threats. Judicial Watch argues that the testimony transcripts sought may shed light on government misconduct, and the shielding of internal government deliberations does not serve the public’s interest.
Lerner and Paz asked the court to deny Judicial Watch’s December 14, 2017, motion for leave to submit an amicus curiae brief. In January 2018, Judicial Watch filed a reply brief asking the court to accept its amicus curiae brief (NorCal Tea Party Patriots, et al. v. The Internal Revenue Service, et al. (No. 1:13-cv-00341)).
In its August 2018 brief, Judicial Watch points out that it has been at the forefront of the investigation into the IRS’s conduct:
Within days after the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (“TIGTA”) released its report on May 14, 2013 confirming that IRS employees targeted organizations applying for 501(c)(4) tax exempt status with conservative sounding names such as “patriot” and “Tea Party” in their titles, Judicial Watch led the charge and initiated an investigation into the IRS’s conduct toward such organizations. As part of its investigation, Judicial Watch submitted dozens of FOIA requests and since has filed at least nine FOIA lawsuits seeking relevant records from implicated federal agencies.
In addition to the revelation of IRS employees’ conduct in the emails uncovered, the records obtained by Judicial Watch also sparked investigations into Lois Lerner’s emails and the IRS’s failure to preserve thousands of emails that were potentially relevant to the various investigations headed by Judicial Watch and the U.S. Congress about the IRS’s 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 withhold email communications to or from Ms. Lerner and/or Ms. Paz….
“Judicial Watch played a central role in uncovering the IRS scandals, in which Lerner and Paz were primary actors. Judicial Watch uncovered 41,100 pages of records. Our work led to the discovery of IRS collusion with the Mueller-run FBI to plan prosecutions of the very groups the Obama IRS was persecuting. Judicial Watch also uncovered the revelation that thousands of Ms. Lerner’s emails were destroyed by the IRS while Judicial Watch’s lawsuits and other investigations were pending,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
According to the court order, “to the extent Defendants Lois Lerner and Holly Paz intend to respond to Judicial Watch’s amicus curiae brief beyond what has already been provided to the Court, Defendants Lois Lerner and Holly Paz will be permitted to make that presentation at the hearing on this matter….”
The hearing is scheduled for:
Date: Thursday, August 9, 2018
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Location: Courtroom 109
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio (Western Division)
Potter Stewart U.S. Courthouse
100 East Fifth Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202