CINCINNATI (AP) — IRS officials facing a tea party lawsuit over alleged targeting say their lives would be in danger if they testify publicly.
The federal lawsuit in Cincinnati is one of several filed against the IRS over its handling of applications for tax-exempt status from conservative groups.
Lois Lerner and Holly Paz have indicated in court filings that they received death threats and have been harassed after the allegations of anti-conservative bias surfaced in 2013.
Their attorneys say evidence filed under seal shows making their testimony public would put them in "serious jeopardy."
In a recent filing, attorneys for Lerner and Paz said their documentation shows "very personal references and contains graphic, profane and disturbing language ...."
The Cincinnati Enquirer (http://cin.ci/2ptzPY9) reports that an attorney for the tea party groups says the public should know what happened. U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett will hear arguments May 19 in a closed hearing.
"Generally, our position is that this is a matter of great public interest and there is no legal basis for sealing the depositions or the arguments about whether the depositions should be sealed," attorney Edward Greim said. He said he couldn't discuss the sealed filings.
Lerner, former head of the IRS exempt-organizations division, resigned. Paz was reassigned.
The Justice Department concluded an investigation by saying no IRS officials would face criminal charges over the tax-exempt applications. The IRS has said it took action to improve handling of the applications.
Information from: The Cincinnati Enquirer, http://www.enquirer.com