The Internal Revenue Service chief counsel William J. Wilkins was revealed by IRS witness Carter Hull at a House Oversight Committee hearing on July 18 as a senior official who would see Tea Party and other conservative organizations’ applications for tax exempt status.
Wilkins has a long history with the Democratic Party since the early 1980’s and was the lawyer who defended President Barack Obama’s former preacher Jeremiah Wright in 2008, when the church was under investigation for being in violation of its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. According to visitors logs, Wilkins visited the White House at least nine times since 2010.
The Wall Street Journal‘s Peggy Noonan describes Thursday’s revelations, saying, “It’s almost as if — my words — the conservative organizations in question were, during two major election cycles, deliberately held in a holding pattern”:
What was the chief counsel’s office looking for? The letter to Mr. Werfel says Mr. Hull’s supervisor, Ronald Shoemaker, provided insight: The counsel’s office wanted, in the words of the congressional committees, “information about the applicants’ political activities leading up to the 2010 election.” Mr. Shoemaker told investigators he didn’t find that kind of question unreasonable, but he found the counsel’s office to be “not very forthcoming”: “We discussed it to some extent and they indicated that they wanted more development of possible political activity or political intervention right before the election period.”
According to the White House visitors logs Wilkins visited the White House when the President was present. Only one of those times in April of 2012, was it with a smaller group of 11 other government officials or policy advisors as opposed to a large reception. Wilkins also visited the White House for an appointee event and to meet with White House staffers at the Old Executive Office Building.