Buchanan Calls for Disclosure of Lois Lerner’s Secret Testimony
“What is She Hiding”
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan said today the secret testimony of disgraced IRS official Lois Lerner should be unsealed by a federal court.
Buchanan, who chairs the congressional committee that oversees the IRS, is the first member of Congress to call on the court to publicly release Lerner’s own account of how and why American taxpayers were denied their constitutional rights.
The IRS recently admitted to intentionally targeting American citizens by Lerner several years ago.
“Lois Lerner betrayed the nation's trust yet managed to avoid accountability and criminal charges,” said Buchanan. “Now she wants to keep her role in the illegal targeting scheme secret, free from public scrutiny. What is she hiding? The public deserves answers.”
Lerner and her deputy, Holly Paz, filed a motion with U.S. District Court Judge Michael R. Barrett last month asking that tapes and transcripts of their depositions be forever kept secret from the public.
A federal judge previously sealed the depositions while the case was ongoing after their personal lawyers said the two were receiving threats. The Justice Department, class action plaintiffs, and multiple news organizations including the Wall Street Journal and Cincinnati Enquirer have all since requested that the documents be unsealed.
In October, the Justice Department announced that it had agreed to a $3.5 million settlement with groups that were targeted based on their political leanings. The monetary agreement was based partly on the secret testimony of Lerner.
This is not the first time that Lerner has sought to keep her actions private. In 2014, she pleaded the Fifth Amendment when questioned by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee regarding the targeting scandal.
According to a three-year investigation by the House Ways and Means committee, Lerner used her position to improperly influence agency action against conservative organizations, denying these groups due process and equal protection rights under the law; impeded official investigations by providing misleading statements in response to questions from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and may have disclosed confidential taxpayer information.
Buchanan is a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee and serves as the chairman of the panel’s Oversight subcommittee with jurisdiction over the IRS.