Scandal: One IRS commissioner visited Obama’s White House 118 times in 2010 and 2011. His successor also dropped in often. But under George W. Bush, the tax chief visited once in four years. Time for an audit.
As the Washington Examiner noted last weekend, ex-commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service Douglas Shulman went to the White House some 118 times in 2010 and 2011, while Steven Miller, the acting director who took over from Shulman last November, himself made numerous trips there, White House visitor logs show.
Business as usual for one of the most powerful arms of the federal government, you might think. Not so.
Mark Everson, who ran the IRS during most of the George W. Bush administration, from 2003 to 2007, apparently visited a single time, grousing that he felt like he had “moved to Siberia” because the tax collection agency was so out of the policy loop.
The alibi the White House has wedded itself to is that it had to work closely with the IRS to implement ObamaCare. But House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., says “it’s hard to believe” the IRS’ abusive targeting of Tea Party and other conservative groups did not enter into the conversations that took place at these meetings, at least “in passing.”
But the Bush administration actually did some IRS revamping during its tenure, to “provide IRS with the modern tools needed both to deliver first-class customer service to America’s taxpayers and to ensure that compliance programs are administered efficiently,” with one of the major goals being to address “the drop in customer service … over the past several years.”
Yet that didn’t seem to require the IRS commissioner to scurry to the West Wing more than 100 times, or anything close to it.
Commentary’s John Steele Gordon points out that the managerial post of IRS commissioner coming over to the White House once a week on average might make sense if President Obama had been planning a big tax code restructuring. But that was not the case, and “Obama’s sole interest in the tax code has been to raise rates on high earners,” Gordon notes.
Shulman admits he knew by spring 2012 that the IRS was targeting conservative groups.
So, “Is it really believable that someone who had a Wall Street career before coming to Washington five years ago was so politically naive that he didn’t see the potential for scandal in that information and give the White House a heads-up?” Gordon asks. And that no White House staffer then passed it on to the president?
Then again, Shulman is the same guy who, with a straight face, answered Congress’ questions about the 118 visits with the alibi that he visited the White House to attend “the Easter Egg Roll, with my kids.”
That’s a lot of Easter Eggs — but not a lot of credibility.
There is a lot the American public do not yet know about communications between the White House and IRS. The integrity of free government demands a full, serious investigation.
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This opinion editorial article was published in Investor’s Business Daily.