Douglas Shulman, who served as Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from 2008 until late 2012, was a tremendously frequent visitor to President Barack Obama’s White House during the time the agency was involved in actively discriminating against Tea Party conservatives.
According to the Washington Examiner, Shulman, a George W. Bush appointee who nonetheless made campaign donation to the Democratic National Committee, visited with the Presidential Administration an average of one time a week between 2010 and 2011. His five-year term expired in November.
By contrast, former IRS Commissioner Mark Everson, who served under George W. Bush from 2003-2007,told the Examiner he visited the White House only a single time during his entire tenure, saying that experience left him feeling like he’d “moved to Siberia” because of the aloofness of the Bush Administration from the agency’s operational activities.
IRS Acting Director Steven Miller, who succeeded Shulman in November, also made repeated visits to the White House.
Shulman said he couldn’t remember why he went to the White House so frequently, though some of the visits were probably about the IRS’ role in implementing Obama’s health care reforms, he told a congressional committee. Logs show Shulman met with two West Wing officials working on health care.
“The IRS has a major role in the money flow,” Shulman explained to Congress.
But while the health care-related visits were explained in the logs, many others included no explanation. Other sources said the IRS and White House were also talking at the time about an investigation into excessive IRS spending on employee conferences, travel and awards.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said Shulman’s frequent visits make it hard to believe that the IRS and White House never talked about the investigation into the IRS targeting of conservative groups, which was going on at the time — something the White House vigorously denies.
Indeed, the extent of the ongoing interaction between the Obama Administration and the IRS casts doubt on the President’s already implausible claim that, under his leadership, the agency had operated independently of influence from the executive branch. And aside from its own sinister implications, the oft-repeated excuse that Obamacare would need the IRS as a deployment, data-gathering and enforcement arm doesn’t line up with the number or timing of the 118 visits — a fact not lost on Commentary magazine’s John Steele Gordon:
Obama’s sole interest in the tax code has been to raise rates on high earners. So what was the commissioner doing going to the White House more than once a week on average?
One explanation would be the statutory involvement of the IRS in implementing Obamacare. But that bill was signed into law in early 2010. White House logs show on several occasions that he [Shulman] talked with White House staff about health care, but many other times no reason is given for his visit or whom he saw, which in itself is odd.
By his own admission he knew by the spring of 2012 (he resigned in November, 2012) that organizations with the words “Tea Party” in their names were being targeted for extra scrutiny. Is it really believable that someone who had a Wall Street career before coming to Washington five years ago was so politically naïve that he didn’t see the potential for scandal in that information and give the White House a heads-up? And, assuming he did so, is it believable that none of those White House staffers–who can hardly claim political naiveté–did not pass the information along to the president, leaving him to learn of it in the papers?
If so, there are a lot of potential customers to snap up the Brooklyn Bridge at a bargain rate.
Shulman testified before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight last week that, of those 118 times, he met with the President on four occasions, the last of which he said took place on June 5, 2012. He also testified he’d not once discussed any Tea Party complaints with any Administration official during any of his visits.
During that same two-year period, Shulman received more than 130 separate complaints from conservative members of Congress requesting the IRS look into the targeting of conservative nonprofit groups.