Embattled IRS chief counsel met with Obama 2 days before agency changed targeting criteria
The Obama appointee implicated in congressional testimony in the IRS targeting scandal met with President Obama in the White House two days before offering his colleagues a new set of advice on how to scrutinize tea party and conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
IRS chief counsel William Wilkins, who was named in House Oversight testimony by retiring IRS agent Carter Hull as one of his supervisors in the improper targeting of conservative groups, met with Obama in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on April 23, 2012. Wilkins’ boss, then-IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman, visited the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on April 24, 2012, according to White House visitor logs.
On April 25, 2012, Wilkins’ office sent the exempt organizations determinations unit “additional comments on the draft guidance” for approving or denying tea party tax-exempt applications, according to the IRS inspector general’s report.
Between 2010 and 2012, the IRS sent letters demanding groups’ training materials, personal information on groups’ donors and college interns, and even the content of a religious group’s prayers.
Wilkins’ meeting with Obama on April 23 was attended by 13 people.
Wilkins, who is one of only two Obama appointees at the IRS, is a former lobbyist with the firm WilmerHale, where he spent his time “counseling nonprofit organizations, business entities, and investment funds on tax compliance, business transactions, and government investigations.” At the firm, Wilkins defended Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s Chicago-based United Church of Christ from a 2008 investigation into whether Wright violated his church’s nonprofit status by speaking in favor of Obama. Wilkins successfully defended Wright’s church pro bono.
The White House did not return a request for comment.