The PJ Tatler

IRS Commissioner Shulman Visited the White House Far More Often than Any Cabinet Member

According to the Daily Caller, former IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman did not visit the Obama White House 118 times, as has been reported. He visited a whole lot more than that.

Publicly released records show that embattled former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman visited the White House at least 157 times during the Obama administration, more recorded visits than even the most trusted members of the president’s Cabinet.

That’s far more visits than any cabinet member, including Attorney General Eric Holder. The visits also came during a period when Obama was supposedly focusing on the economy, but was not in fact meeting with his jobs council at all.

I came to the DC story by way of Megan McArdle, who still doesn’t seem to grok the implications of so many visits by the IRS honcho to the White House, or the scandal itself.

I think the administration needs to explain this.  Not because I think that Obama called Doug Shulman into his office to tell him to persecute the Tea Party.  That explanation is unlikely for all sorts of reasons:

1.  Delaying perhaps 100 applications for 501(c)(4) status did not meaningfully impact the election.  I’m not minimizing what happened to those groups; it’s absolutely outrageous that the IRS told its workers to be on the lookout for the words Tea Party and Patriot in the names.  But I can’t believe that it was a deliberate political strategy, because there’s no way such a strategy would have worked.  It’s moronic: all cost and no benefit.  And whatever you think about Obama’s political strategists, they are definitely not morons.

The actual number of targeted groups is closer to 500, not 100. A Politico reporter admitted that targeting these groups easily impacted the election. Some of the targeting appears to be quite sinister. Some of the targeted are Hispanic groups across Texas, for instance, opening up the possibility that there was a demographic angle to suppressing these groups, if that was the IRS’ intent.

As for “all cost and no benefit,” the simple fact is that as those groups were harassed, they were less able to criticize the president because they were distracted and unable in some cases to raise funds. Some of their leaders just gave up, because they couldn’t afford to pay to defend themselves or because the hassle was too much. Obama narrowly won re-election. No groups allied to him were harassed like the Tea Party groups were. Supposing he was involved in the IRS abuse, what was the cost to him? He kept his job. No one has actually been fired. Up until May 10, when Lois Lerner planted the question that kicked off the scandal, there had been no cost to Obama at all. The media had not paid any attention to the scandal the few times it did perk up during 2012. There may never have been any media attention focused on it had the DOJ’s snooping on the AP not come to light. It was that scandal that riled up the media, which is now pursuing the IRS and Benghazi scandals more aggressively.

McArdle again:

2.  If they were having secret, clandestine meetings to order grossly illegal behavior, it would probably be foolish to have them in the White House, where the visits would be recorded.  Much easier for the staffer to meet in the IRS, or a nearby Starbucks.

Yeah, you’re going to meet the head of the IRS and discuss a plot to abuse hundreds of citizens’ groups in a public place where other politicos may overhear you. And if you’re the president, you’re going to dispatch a lieutenant to hold that meeting. McArdle should not be in line to run any spy agency.

3.  Why on earth would it have taken 118 meetings?  Did Doug Shulman not understand “target the tea party” the first 117 times Obama said it?

No one is saying that every single one of these meetings was about the abuse. Some were surely about implementing ObamaCare. Then there was the Easter Egg roll Shulman snarked about in Congress. That staggering number of meetings could have been about several subjects, along with the one everybody is now interested in. McArdle hasn’t debunked anything. She hasn’t even raised any good questions.

The fact is, as the IRS was abusing hundreds of groups opposed to the president, the head of the IRS and the head of the IRS workers union both met with the president or his officers in the White House. This must be explained.