Recent reports detailed 157 visits by former IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman to the White House during the time when the IRS was targeting President Obama’s political enemies for extra scrutiny. This is amazing when you consider that Shulman visited the White House more than any cabinet member – the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, etc., etc. – and that Shulman’s predecessor visited the Bush White House exactly once.
But the Obama administration has spun those visits by claiming they had to do with the implementation of Obamacare, which will be carried out by the IRS. That might make sense, except that while one of Obama’s top campaign officials was in the room during Shulman’s meetings the person who wasn’t was the actual official at the IRS in charge of Obamacare.
Sarah Hall Ingram, the IRS’ top Obamacare official who was the head of the tax-exempt division in 2010 when the targeting of conservative groups occurred, has visited the White House 165 times since 2011. Yet not one of those visits overlapped with Shulman’s 165 visits since 2011. Making it a little hard to believe that Shulman’s visits were about Obamacare.
From the Franklin Center:
Recent press reports focused on the 157 visits to the White House by former IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman, but there has been little scrutiny of the 165 White House visits by the IRS ‘Obamacare’ official Sarah Hall Ingram.
According to White House visitor data, Shulman never attended any of Ingram’s meetings, and Ingram never attended a White House meeting with Shulman.
All of Ingram’s165 meetings were with White House staff, while only 151 of Shulman’s visits were with staff. Shulman attended six meetings with President Barack Obama.
Ingram attended 62 White House meetings in 2011, 90 in 2012 and 13 this year (though February).
Most of Ingram’s visits were hosted by Jeanne Lambrew, who according to the Washington Post is the Deputy Assistant to the President for Health Policy.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the testimony from low-level IRS officials in Cincinatti is inconsistent with the claims from top-level IRS officials that the targeting was the result of the low-level officials going rogue:
Two Internal Revenue Service employees in the agency’s Cincinnati office told congressional investigators that IRS officials in Washington helped direct the probe of tea-party groups that began in 2010.
Transcripts of the interviews, viewed Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal, appear to contradict earlier statements by top IRS officials, who have blamed lower-level workers in Cincinnati.
Elizabeth Hofacre said her office in Cincinnati sought help from IRS officials in the Washington unit that oversees tax-exempt organizations after she started getting the tea-party cases in April 2010. Ms. Hofacre said Carter Hull, an IRS lawyer in Washington, closely oversaw her work and suggested some of the questions asked applicants.
“I was essentially a front person, because I had no autonomy or no authority to act on [applications] without Carter Hull’s influence or input,” she said, according to the transcripts.
Mr. Hull could not be reached for comment.
It’s hard to image that low-level IRS employees were calling a Washington IRS lawyer for guidance on a scheme to target groups and individuals of a certain political ideology that they came up with themselves.
The question now is, who is Mr. Hull and who was giving him his orders?