Did IRS chief really visit White House 157 times?
May 31st, 2013
12:30 PM ET
1 year ago

Did IRS chief really visit White House 157 times?

Updated at 2:35 p.m. ET on Friday 5/31

(CNN) – In the early days of President Barack Obama's sweeping new health care law, Douglas Shulman, then the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, was cleared to visit the White House 157 times over three years, official visitor logs show.

More than 50 of Douglas Shulman's scheduled visits are described as "health care meetings" or "health care reform meetings," according to the visitor logs. Arrival times are only listed for 11 of his visits, and it's not unusual for a person to appear on the visitor logs - which are derived from Secret Service clearance lists - without actually having visited the White House. The majority of the visits were set to be held in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which houses office suites for administration aides.

The IRS, which has come under fire for its admitted targeting of conservative groups applying to become tax exempt, is responsible for enforcing many of the new rules associated with Obamacare, which was signed into law on March 23, 2010.

Official White House visitor logs show Shulman's scheduled White House visits came between October 2009 and December 2012. Shulman was appointed by President Bush in 2008 and left the post in November 2012. On Fox News Thursday, Shulman's predecessor Mark Everson stated he'd only visited the White House once during his tenure as IRS commissioner, though visitor logs for the Bush administration aren't available publically online.

According to an inspector general report from earlier this May, March 2010 was the month IRS agents began filtering applications for tax-exempt status using the words "tea party" and "patriot." The agency experienced a flood of new applications after the Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case that opened the door to increased corporate and private political spending.

Of Shulman's meetings recorded in the visitor logs, 40 listed his "visitee" as Nancy Ann DeParle, who acted as the director of the White House Office of Health Reform until 2011, when she moved into the role of deputy chief of staff for policy. Fifty-four visit records list Sarah Fenn as Shulman's "visitee." Fenn is listed as a staff assistant in 2010 White House salary records. In 2011 she's described as "assistant counsel of ethics."

Five visits listed Obama as the "visitee."

The president's health care law created a massive new workload for the IRS, which is charged with issuing and enforcing rules related to Obamacare. The agency's tasks include collecting information for employers and insurers; figuring out who qualified for subsidies or Medicaid, determining who must pay a penalty for not obtaining insurance, and penalizing employers that don't provide affordable coverage to their employees.

"Tax provisions included in the Affordable Care Act represent the largest set of tax law changes the IRS has had to implement in more than 20 years," the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration noted in a recent report.

The ACA has some 500 provisions, and more than 40 amend or add provisions to the tax code, according to the report.

In congressional testimony earlier this month, Shulman was quizzed on his visits to the White House. He attributed one visit to taking his children to the annual Easter egg roll hosted by the president and first lady, but said at no point did he talk to anyone at the White House about the agency's tax exempt rules. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney backed up that claim last week, saying "An IRS commissioner appropriately has - or his designees have - meetings on matters of policy all the time, but not discussions about enforcement or applications for tax exempt status."

Speaking in separate testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, Shulman said that he was aware of some aspects of his agency's targeting of conservative groups in the spring of 2012, and took what he called the correct action of ensuring the situation would be independently reviewed.

But he denied full awareness of what was happening at the time, saying subordinates failed to inform him of the details.

Top White House officials say they knew nothing of the targeting when it occurred. General Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler learned of the pending inspector general's report on April 24, 2013, according to Carney. She later informed other top Obama aides, including chief of staff Denis McDonough.

Carney insisted no one - including Ruemmler and McDonough - told Obama anything about the inspector general's pending report before media reports about it began appearing on May 10.

CNN's Kevin Liptak and CNNMoney's Jeanne Sahadi contributed to this report.


Filed under: IRS • White House
soundoff (173 Responses)
  1. Pam from Iowa

    who cares how many times???
    Can you tell me how many times the CEO of Hunt Oil visited the White House prior to getting lucrative contracts for Iraqi oil during the invasion of Iraq??
    Can you tell me how many times "lets invade Iraq" was mentioned during the "secret" Cheney Energy meetings????

    May 31, 2013 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    from the article:

    The majority were set to be held in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which houses office suites for administration aides.
    --------------–
    In other words, the majority of these 157 visits "to the White House" never actually took place "in the White House".

    May 31, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    So much for Bill O'Reilly ranting on Faux News last night that the number of visits was somehow a "smoking gun" eh?

    Now, what were we talking about? Oh yeah...WHO is doing the fabricating? WHO?!?!?!?

    May 31, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  4. Babyboomer

    @Pam from Iowa. I couldn't have said it better myself. This kind of "Reporting" has gotten down right stupid...

    May 31, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  5. Wake up People!

    Name change coming soon.......
    Stay tuned......

    May 31, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  6. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    How many trips have republicans taken overseas at the taxpayers expense?

    May 31, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  7. just sayin

    The president's health care law created a massive new workload for the IRS, which is charged with issuing and enforcing rules related to Obamacare. The agency's tasks include collecting information for employers and insurers; figuring out who qualified for subsidies or Medicaid, determining who must pay a penalty for not obtaining insurance, and penalizing employers that don't provide affordable coverage to their employees.
    "Tax provisions included in the Affordable Care Act represent the largest set of tax law changes the IRS has had to implement in more than 20 years," the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration noted in a recent report.
    The ACA has some 500 provisions, and more than 40 amend or add provisions to the tax code, according to the report.
    ----–

    read this all and tell me how much better our lives and healthcare will be with this much irs involvement. obama and the democrats have royally screwed over the american people with obamacare. train wreck will not even begin to describe the fiasco this country is going to start to experience over the next year or two. i can hardly wait until the 2014 and 2016 elections.

    May 31, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  8. Wake up People!

    @Pam from Iowa.....
    Exactly!! We must have missed those stories......

    May 31, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  9. California Gary

    The logs clearly show that the purpose of the meetings was related to health care reform issues. Since the IRS has a role to play in the Affordable Care Act, it is not surprising to me that the IRS would be participating in that number of meetings.......this is a rather sizable and complicated Act, and it is important to try and get it right the first time. No smoking gun here......

    May 31, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  10. RC Cola

    Five visits listed Obama as the "visitee." Just saying... Facts on paper could mean anything good or bad....let the chips fall where they should........ If he is innocence, great; guilty...then he has to go.

    May 31, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  11. Duke

    He went to the White House office complex ... to do his JOB??? Nope, to easy, to simple. He must really be smuggling money for CREEP. Yep. That's it.

    May 31, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  12. sly

    You are kidding – a member of a Federal Regulatory Agency meets with other regulatory decision makers?

    Wow – next thing you'll tell us is that members of Congress meet regularly.

    What is this country coming to? Communication? Isn't that kinda like Communism? Sounds the same to me anyway ...

    May 31, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Babyboomer

    @Pam from Iowa. I couldn't have said it better myself. This kind of "Reporting" has gotten down right stupid...
    -----------------–
    Journalists across the board are a little peeved with the White House because of the AP phone stuff and the naming of journalist as a co-conspirator. So, don't expect too much for a while to come.

    What bothers me is this. If a government employee gives classified intel to a foreign national, both the employee and the foreigner would be guilty of espionage, or whatever. But. But, if the a government employee gives the same classified intel to a journalist, then that's not a crime. It's called a journalist doing his or her job.

    It's like the entire media has gone on a denial streak. It's like they don't want to admit the possibility that there are some bad apples within their ranks. The press has gotten a free pass on a lot of things, which is okay. Just don't expect to get a free pass on everything.

    May 31, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  14. anonymous

    The president's health care law created a massive new workload for the IRS, which is charged with issuing and enforcing rules related to Obamacare. The agency's tasks include collecting information for employers and insurers; figuring out who qualified for subsidies or Medicaid, determining who must pay a penalty for not obtaining insurance, and penalizing employers that don't provide affordable coverage to their employees.
    "Tax provisions included in the Affordable Care Act represent the largest set of tax law changes the IRS has had to implement in more than 20 years," the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration noted in a recent report.
    The ACA has some 500 provisions, and more than 40 amend or add provisions to the tax code, according to the report.
    ----–

    read this all and tell me how much better our lives and healthcare will be with this much irs involvement. obama and the democrats have royally screwed over the american people with obamacare. train wreck will not even begin to describe the fiasco this country is going to start to experience over the next year or two. i can hardly wait until the 2014 and 2016 elections.

    May 31, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  15. Gurgyl

    His visit is wrong??? Idiots. No matter how many times he visits–WH is a "PUBLIC-OFFICE", not GOP idiots property.

    May 31, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  16. Pushover

    No, what it points out is that Shulman had close access to high ranking Obama officials, and considering he was responsible for overseeing tax exempt applications of groups applying for exemption from tax laws set forth both PACs and Obamacare, meeting once a week, the subject surely would have come up to aides close to Obama. So either he knew what was going on, or was totally aloof as what to what was going, which proves poor leadership. Not to mention the is also the ramp up to the 2012 election.

    May 31, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  17. Quixote

    More distractions for the stupid.

    I sometimes think fox just publishes meaningless things in provocative ways to see how many idiots they can make foam at the mouth.m

    May 31, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  18. Bill Smells

    @Pam from Iowa – The information you seek is public record, so, yes, they can tell you how many times the CEO visited. But I am astounded that you don't tolerate things like this under the last administration but yet you're okay when it's being done by this one.

    Liberal double-standards are destroying this country and must be stopped.

    May 31, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  19. ST

    It doesn't matter how many times this man visited the White House. It could be even million times. What matters is what all these visits were about. If anyone has no concrete evidence that it was all about something, in a smart way of thinking, they better shut up. Who live in the real sense on assumptions? Those who are claiming so, they real look stupid in the eyes of reasoning people.

    May 31, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  20. drbrent

    The IRS and Obama only discussed helping sick babies. They did not discuss targeting political opponents.

    May 31, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  21. MikeLand

    I think you all are missing the point, it is extremely interesting that the IRS leads met with the WH 150+ times. I find it scary how easily you Pro-O folks would like to turn a blind eye to everything this administration is doing all in the name of 'I hate Republicans'. Heck, event he liberal media is now starting to scratch their heads and wonder how many systemic issues are coming out of this administration. Can't hide from the fact, you all voted in a corrupt President who learned the 'Chicago Way' of politics.

    May 31, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  22. Liberal Sense (Or lack thereof)

    Like what they write down in the visitor log is actually what they talk about?

    Word for the day is GULLIBLE.

    May 31, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  23. Mark

    There's no getting around what happened with this IRS scandal. It happened and there quite possibly will be more to be told. There's no explaining away (as this article attempted to do), there's no justification. There's no justifying the Benghazi issues and the same for the AP and Rosen records. This type mentality reminds me of a Police State and I am very upset about it. Everyone in our country should be! Leave politics somewhere else and join the solution rather than perpetuating the problem by taking sides based on political phiosophy and petty vengeance.

    May 31, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  24. Liberal Sense (Or lack thereof)

    The battle cry of democrats (for now) "What difference does it make?"

    May 31, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  25. foolislibs

    Let me guess and out of those 157 visits, the subject of targeting the conservative groups never came up once..... not once!

    If you believe that you are drinking too much of the party kool-aid. Don't blame the news people. Use common sense.

    May 31, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
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