Did IRS chief really visit White House 157 times?
May 31st, 2013
12:30 PM ET
7 years 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. Lork

    "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."- well the shouldn't the next question be.. why wasn't he told?

    May 31, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  2. George Dixon

    Obama's re-election is impending

    IRS can be used to prevent Republican and TeaParty GOTV groups

    Shulman has more recorded visits to the White House than HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (48), DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano (34), Education Secretary Arne Duncan (31), former Energy Secretary Steven Chu (22) and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates (17) combined.

    May 31, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  3. Curt Larson

    Fenn is listed as a staff assistant in 2010 White House salary records. In 2011 she's described as "assistant counsel of ethics."
    Since when did this Administration have ANY ethics?????

    May 31, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  4. Two Party "System"

    It is very unfortunate that the often desperate, uneducated or blame-someone-else-for-my-situation Obama voters fell for such ridiculous, impossible promises. Now we find out he didn't just lie to them – he cheated too. It is a shame he didn't make more of the opportunity he was given and instead set such a bad example for hopeful folks who bought his class warfare pitch. We have an illegitimate president in the white house.

    May 31, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  5. Fred Phred

    I know what fair isn't:

    I know it's not fair when JC Penney pays its top brass 250M a year (that's an average of 50M a piece) while running the company into the ground with stupid schemes and paying it's front line workers minimum wage. Of course your sales plummeted!!! What woman wants to go in and buy shoes from a 18 year old chewing bubble gum and texting on her cell phone?

    But the management took home big fat paychecks, while the stock plummeted the whole time.

    Don't you think they could have found a decent management team for maybe 2-3M bucks a year each?

    It's unfair when they rip off the shareholders and leave them holding the bag!

    May 31, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  6. abmri60

    Yes, he clocked that amount of time.
    His predecessor only visited the WH once during the four years of W's presidency.

    May 31, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  7. Malory Archer

    Marcel Moreno

    What offends me the most about people (including the media) that somehow defend, justified or rationalize what the IRS did, is that they, like in this article, view this as the targeting of Republicans, and not as the targeting of Americans and their believes.


    FINALLY someone gets it – it wasn't just rethugs and their "beliefs" that were targeted; dem & progressive groups were targeted as well, and believe me, they're not happy either. If only the "librul" media would pick up on that subtle nuance.

    May 31, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  8. Anonymous Bob

    Bush resigned an Attorney General for doing inappropriate things, and people have forgotten about that. The only question for Obama is timing. If he "resigns" Holder in the next couple weeks then it will stand in stark contrast to his "full confidence" appraisal of Holder, make it look like he is bowing to political pressure, and perhaps make people think that Holder is corrupt right before an election.

    Are there many elections this November? Obama could do it in early August, as he can't do it at the end of October right before the elections, but I don't think he can do it in June as that would look too early. So, I'm think a July to August timeframe. I bet Vegas is taking bets on when Holder will resign, it is pretty much a given at this point.

    Republicans/Tea Party folks are probably very happy that Bachman is bowing out now.

    May 31, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  9. rs

    so the IRS targets the administrations political enemies and that's ok with you people? They also tap phone lines of journalists and you're ok with that?
    The TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Party- a wholly owned arm of the Republican Party really is the ENEMY of the President of the United States? You sure? If that really is the case, the President would not call out the IRS- much less and IRS run by a Bush Republican appointee. No, he would call out the National Guard, and show them what "enemy" status really is.

    I have long held the notion that the GOP (and its more idiotc TEA Partiers) were treasonous- and now you have affirmed that belief.

    Still think they deserve tax exempt status as a "social welfare" organization?

    May 31, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  10. Devon

    Why do democrats love to use derogatory remarks?

    They do? I thought it was Ann Coulter who called the president a r*tard. Last I checked, Ann Coulter was a conservative republican.

    May 31, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    "Talk about distractions while Obama even brings this non issue up ONLY because HE needs to BLAME repubicans for passing a bill he never read but says he'll veto (Typical democrat) Distractions from the Trifecta Obama has broght on to himself will continue until the truth comes out. I'm sure you'll love the results."

    Right. Obama never read it. And yet, because he's "magic" he somehow managed to pinpoint two very specific differences between his proposal and the GOP/Teatroll proposal and articulaltely explain why they are absolutely key and determinative of whether the GOP/Teatroll legislation is good enough to be signed as-is or should be vetoed and fixed. Sounds like more 'OMG, he's done so much, turned himself into a dictator, completely overhauled the federal gov't and turned us into a socialist state...all while doing nothing but making campaign speeches and golfing." You guys are ridiculous.

    May 31, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  12. rs

    This is tyranny. The fact that the DOJ, can just lable anyone a criminal co-consiprator without any evidence is flat out an abuse of power. What was the purpose of going after that reporters parents and family records as well. Same for the SS.IRS. This was not just targeting, this was flat out discrimination. The SS IRS has gotten out of hand and needs to be shut down. All of u blindly defending this Administration should stop think what if this were done to u?
    Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah-
    You how foolish this "revolutionary" garbage sounds? What is with you clowns? You hate the government, you hate the President. You cook up these 3rd-grader conspiracies- and threaten everyone. What a bunch of losers! Move to Somolia if you want life without government. Don't forget to write!

    May 31, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  13. sly

    I admire the IRS for their efforts to prevent Tax Fraud.

    Why do Republicans try so hard to avoid paying taxes? And then they wonder why we have a big deficit.

    Are Republicans so ignorant they've already forgotten that billionaire Mitt Romney, their hero, paid about 8% taxes?

    May 31, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  14. Jim

    NO. it was the Easter Bunny. COME ON. Every time the Democrats, Obama, the news media (mention) the TEA PARTY, it usually is follow by, "THE TEA PARTY, those rotten, go for nothing, people, we need to find a way to destroy them".

    Which, makes the IRS DISCRIMINATION, very TRANSPARENT, that is was the Democrats and Obama that used the IRS to BLOCK the TEA Party.

    This dude visiting the White House, 173 times, is further evidence. But the Democrats and Obama are going to LIE, run smoke screens and the NEWS media will be MORE than willing to help, to cover it up.

    Remember. Obama HAD to win the Election. Now matter what it took?

    Put that in your "polling" data and smoke it.

    FYI (it is REALLY OBVIOUS TOO)! THE MORE Obama lies, the more J Carney covers it up, the more the NEWS media coves it up, the MORE OBVIOUS it is that Obama and Democrats fixed the IRS to harass the TEA PARTY!

    May 31, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  15. Dr Matrix


    It's time the President own the behavior of those who serve him.

    I don't remember Bush or Cheney owning the outing of a covert CIA agent.

    May 31, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  16. RonnieLee

    Well, it's blatantly obvious that the change from a conservative republican to liberal democrat in the Whitehouse has been met with the largest flip flop of public opinion on executive branch power in US history. What is being done by the executive branch is not nearly as important as by whom, and it's a damned disgrace.

    May 31, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  17. Bill inVA

    Did he visit 157 times? To paraphrase Hillary..at this point, what does it matter? At least this guy wasn't dealing with death of his people on his watch. THAT mattered.

    May 31, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "Seems Obama and Holder suffer repeatedly from the Schultz syndrome...... I know NOTHING!!!!!"

    Yeah, we should probably waterboard them. I mean, they're brown enough that it's ok, right?

    May 31, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  19. Roger Ogilvy Thornhill

    I like this headline. Can I play too? "Has Obama already visited Mars?" ... "Does George Bush Keep Slaves On His Ranch?" ....
    Oh, boy what fun it is to make up goofy suppositions in headlines.

    May 31, 2013 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  20. jim

    So, so this story is about facts we know allready,so.

    May 31, 2013 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  21. marjee123

    HEY FOLKS WHO BELIEVED THIS JOKE. The head of the IRS visited the white house 11 times. Daily Caller who is the where you get the TRUE MADE UP FACTS posted this item and CNN picked it up. Shades of the Boston Bomber article.

    May 31, 2013 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  22. ted

    The Repugs/Teapubs need to get off this IRS thing and back to creating jobs and opportunities and raising taxes on the rich and giving to the poor.

    May 31, 2013 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  23. thinking outside the box


    I'm sure I'm not the only one – Democrat and Republican alike – who realizes that if Romney had been elected president (trying not to hurl as I type), we'd be at war with Syria/Hezbollah/Russia right now, with boots on the ground and Americans dying.

    Nope, you're not. Just like if McCain had won there would have been real chances we would have been at war with Iran or North Korea.

    May 31, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
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