Published July 09, 2013
The Obama administration has a hard enough time pushing nominees through the Senate. Now it'll have to deal with the IRS targeting scandal potentially trailing its latest nominee for ambassador to Tanzania.
Mark Childress, deputy White House chief of staff, was announced Monday evening as President Obama's pick for the Africa post. Obama described him and several other nominees as "dedicated and accomplished individuals."
Childress has a lengthy and imposing resume, having served in top positions in the Justice and Health and Human Services departments, as well as in the private sector.
But Childress also was involved in the administration's behind-the-scenes strategy for disclosing the IRS scandal. His name surfaced as one of the few White House officials who were in the loop as the Treasury Department and IRS tried to figure out how to come forward with allegations that IRS officials had systematically singled out conservative groups for additional scrutiny.
Childress and others were told about the looming inspector general report by White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler after she was informed on April 24. Childress and his colleagues would have been told several weeks before the IRS went public with the scandal on May 10.
What happened between April 24 and May 10 is not entirely clear. At press briefings in late May, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said not only was Childress looped in by Ruemmler, but he also subsequently had discussions with the Treasury Department about how to release the information.
"This was part of just trying to find out when and under what circumstances this information would be released, made public," Carney said.
Carney indicated they discussed a couple possibilities -- IRS official Lois Lerner delivering a speech, or the acting commissioner addressing the issue during congressional testimony.
Neither of those two scenarios ended up happening. Instead, Lerner dropped the bombshell in response to a planted question at a Washington event on May 10. Former IRS Commissioner Steven Miller has since described the handling of the matter on May 10 -- namely, the use of a planted question -- as an "incredibly bad idea."
Carney said in late May that the White House did not know what led to that decision, indicating the White House was not involved.
An administration official also told FoxNews.com on Tuesday that Childress was not involved in any discussion about planting the question.
Though Republicans have questioned to what extent White House officials were aware of the targeting, no White House official to date has been implicated in the scandal. Disciplinary action has, so far, been contained to the IRS.
Obama announced Childress as his pick for ambassador to Tanzania shortly after returning from a visit to the African nation.