Lois G. Lerner, a former IRS executive, told a federal court last week that members of her family, including “young children,” face death threats and a real risk of physical harm if her story of the tea party targeting scandal becomes public.

On Thursday, Lerner and Holly Paz, her deputy at the IRS, filed documents in court saying tapes and transcripts of depositions they gave in a court case this year must remain sealed forever, or else they could encourage an enraged public to retaliate.

“Whenever Mss. Lerner and Paz have been in the media spotlight, they have faced death threats and harassment,” attorneys for the two women argued.

Lerner and Paz gave taped depositions in a class-action suit brought by tea party groups demanding answers and compensation for having been subjected to illegal targeting for their political beliefs.

Lerner and Paz say that since the case has been settled, there is no reason for their testimony to ever become public.

“The voluminous record of harassment and physical threats to Mss. Lerner and Paz and their families during the pendency of this litigation provides a compelling reason to seal the materials,” the women’s attorneys said.

They particularly blamed Mark Meckler, a tea party leader, saying he helped stoke the threats against them by calling IRS agents “criminal thugs.”

“These words matter. They have created a fertile environment where threats and harassment against Mss. Lerner and Paz have flourished,” the lawyers said.

“Four years of harassing innocent American citizens for their political beliefs, and she’s scared of a guy in a cowboy hat talking to a bunch of little old ladies at a tea party event?” Meckler said, recounting the speech where he called IRSagents “thugs.”

“The reality is because she knows she is guilty as the day is long and she doesn’t want people to know what she actually did,” he said.

“It’s hard to have any sympathy for the women. And frankly, I don’t believe she’s genuinely scared,” Meckler added.

h/t Washington Times