Former IRS Head Shulman Visited Obama White House 118 Times in Two Years


IRS Scandal

Former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman visited the Obama White House 118 times in 2010 and 2011 alone, the Washington Examiner reported last Thursday

Shulman's predecessor, Mark Everson, who served from 2003 to 2007, apparently visited the Bush White House only once during his four-year tenure. Shulman, a Bush appointee who donated $500 to the Democratic National Committee in 2004, served as the IRS Commissioner from March 2008 to November 2012.

In addition, the Examiner reported that Acting Director Stephen Miller, who refused to resign when the scandal involving the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups broke in May but will retire in June, also visited the White House "numerous" times during his eight months at the helm of the IRS.

Shulman's predecessor Everson told the Washington Post on May 13 that he was "quite saddened by these developments." He added, "this is a very serious situation because it undermines trust of Americans in the IRS and ultimately in the government as a whole. So, it’s very serious and warrants a complete and impartial investigation."

Everson recalled, "[w]hen I got to the service it was still coming out of the 1990s, which was a very difficult period for the IRS. And because of the difficult scrutiny the agency faced in the 1990s, people were reluctant to do their jobs. The blunt reality is that the IRS can’t pick and choose which laws it enforces."

Everson told the Examiner, "I fear the IRS is on a slippery slope as regards its traditional independence due to being so intertwined with a major domestic policy initiative like health care reform."

On Monday, John Steele Gordon at Commentary raised questions about the purpose of Shulman's frequent White House visits:

The Commissioner of Internal Revenue is a managerial position, not a policy-making one, although his input on the practical realities of tax collection and how the IRS is structured might well be very useful if the President was planning a big push on tax reform. But no such push has been forthcoming. Obama’s sole interest in the tax code has been to raise rates on high earners. So what was the commissioner doing going to the White House more than once a week on average?

In his recent Congressional testimony, Shulman was unable to recall exactly why he visited the White House so frequently during 2010 and 2011.

Prior to his appointment as Commissioner of the IRS in 2008, Shulman was considered a legal and public policy wunderkind. A graduate of Williams College, Shulman has a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University and a law degree from Georgetown. After a career in private equity, Shulman was tapped to head the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the voluntary regulatory group for securities brokers and dealers. Currently, Mr. Shulman is a Guest Scholar at the Brookings Institute. 


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