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A Frequent Visitor to the White House

The Washington Examiner reported on Monday that Mark Everson, Commissioner of Internal Revenue from 2003 to 2007, during the Bush administration, visited the White House exactly once while in office. Indeed he felt like he’d “moved to Siberia” so out of the ordinary political loop was he. But Douglas Shulman, Commissioner from 2008 to 2012, during the Obama administration, visited the White House 118 times just in 2010 and 2011. His successor, Steven Miller, also visited “numerous” times.

The Commissioner of Internal Revenue is a managerial position, not a policy-making one, although his input on the practical realities of tax collection and how the IRS is structured might well be very useful if the President was planning a big push on tax reform. But no such push has been forthcoming. Obama’s sole interest in the tax code has been to raise rates on high earners. So what was the commissioner doing going to the White House more than once a week on average?

One explanation would be the statutory involvement of the IRS in implementing Obamacare. But that bill was signed into law in early 2010. White House logs show on several occasions that he talked with White House staff about health care, but many other times no reason is given for his visit or whom he saw, which in itself is odd.

By his own admission he knew by the spring of 2012 (he resigned in November, 2012) that organizations with the words “Tea Party” in their names were being targeted for extra scrutiny. Is it really believable that someone who had a Wall Street career before coming to Washington five years ago was so politically naïve that he didn’t see the potential for scandal in that information and give the White House a heads-up? And, assuming he did so, is it believable that none of those White House staffers—who can hardly claim political naiveté—did not pass the information along to the president, leaving him to learn of it in the papers?

If so, there are a lot of potential customers to snap up the Brooklyn Bridge at a bargain rate.