Published July 24, 2013
A top IRS official and Obama appointee – who recently has emerged as a key figure in the IRS targeting scandal -- may have met with President Obama just days before his office put out new guidance on how the agency screens conservative groups.
White House visitor logs show that a “William Wilkins” was at the White House on April 23, 2012, for a meeting with Obama. It’s unclear whether this is the same William Wilkins as the political appointee who leads the IRS Office of Chief Counsel and who was described last week as having played a role in the screening of Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status.
The visitor logs do not detail the purpose of the visit. Neither the IRS nor the White House has responded to questions from FoxNews.com on whether this was the same William Wilkins.
If it is, the meeting could add to the suspicion among Republicans about why IRS appointees were meeting with the White House during that time period. Records show that then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman went to the White House dozens of times. The logs even show Shulman visited the White House on April 24 – one day after the Wilkins meeting.
The meeting would have also come days before the chief counsel’s office issued new guidance on how to screen conservative groups.
The inspector general’s report, which originally exposed the agency’s practice of singling out conservative groups, showed that on April 25, 2012, the chief counsel’s office provided “additional comments on the draft guidance” being developed for the relevant IRS unit.
At that stage, IRS bosses were trying to overhaul the criteria the agency was using to subject certain political groups to additional scrutiny. According to the IG report, officials tried to put a stop to the targeting of conservative groups earlier, but were not successful. They didn’t put an end to the practice until May 2012, according to the report.
Wilkins -- a former tax lobbyist-turned-attorney – was the only IRS official at the time of the scandal to have been appointed by Obama.
His name emerged last week as former IRS official Carter Hull testified before a House committee that he was told to send documents on Tea Party applications to the Office of Chief Counsel, as well as to an adviser for embattled IRS official Lois Lerner.
At an August 2011 meeting, Hull said, someone from the chief counsel's office said additional information was needed from Tea Party applicants that Hull was dealing with, and that a second letter should be sent out requesting more information. Hull said during his testimony that the multi-level layer of review was "unusual."
Obama administration officials have said the White House was not at all involved in the targeting program.
The April 2012 White House meeting was earlier reported by The Daily Caller.