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IRS Visits To White House Need Much More Sunlight

When will the White House release a full description of all substantive White House visits by all IRS officials and what those meetings were about and with whom? On June 1, I wrote a column for that focused on the roughly 150 visits former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman made to the White House during the time the IRS was targeting conservative groups. On June 2, Politico did a report that also examined Shulman’s visits and two sentences stood out to me.

The first noteworthy sentence has to do with 39 of Shulman’s visits: “The visitor logs show, for instance, that at least 39 of Shulman’s meetings focused on the Affordable Care Act – the massive health care overhaul that the IRS has an integral role in implementing. Those meetings were mostly with then-Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Nancy-Ann DeParle, Obama’s top health care aide, and Sarah Fenn, a special assistant to the deputy chief of staff.” The second interesting sentence has to do with 36 of Shulman’s visits: “Records show that the vast majority of his trips were spent in the Old Executive Office Building. Only 36 of Shulman’s appointments he was cleared for were held in the White House. He met with Obama five times, which includes meetings with several attendees and a holiday party.”
Let’s pick these two points apart.

First of all, these answers only explain a small portion of the visits. When should we expect a total detailed account of all Shulman’s visits? Second, just because a meeting’s official reason might be “Affordable Care Act,” that doesn’t mean that’s all that was discussed. That’s why everyone on White House staff who met with Shulman must be questioned by investigators. Third, once you get cleared for a meeting at the White House, whether you meet in the West Wing or OEOB is not relevant. Folks with offices in the West Wing can sit in on OEOB meetings and vice versa. Until we get a complete, detailed account of who from the IRS visited the White House and why, I’m going to remain skeptical about the White House’s claims that they didn’t know anything at the time.

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Citizens United