IRS chief counsel William Wilkins, one of subjects of Congress’s investigation into the agency’s targeting of tea-party groups, visited the White House nine times since 2010, according to the administrator’s visitor access records.
In April 2012, Wilkins attended a small meeting with President Obama in the Roosevelt Room, though records do not indicate the subject of the meeting. The private events on the president’s schedule for that day, aside from the presidential daily briefing, are an 11:00 a.m. meeting with senior advisers and a 4:45 p.m. meeting with former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. It is unclear which of these meetings Wilkins attended, if either, or if his meeting with the president simply did not appear on Obama’s public schedule.
Wilkins also visited the White House in previous years, attending what appears to be a large event on December 15, 2012; the following day, December 16, he was present at a small meeting with then–deputy director of the National Economic Council Jason Furman, who is now the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. In August 2011, Wilkins also met with Jamal Pope, who identifies himself as a special assistant for White House initiatives at the Department of Commerce. Wilkins’s other visits were for large events that extended to all administration appointees. Knowing what Wilkins discussed in his meetings with the president and with administration officials Furman and Pope would shed light on whether the Obama administration directed the IRS to discriminate against conservative groups.
National Review Online on Monday reported that Congress is probing the hard drives of Wilkins, his two deputies, and 14 other lawyers. Wilkins is the only presidentially appointed employee at the agency apart from the commissioner himself. Before joining the IRS, he served on the Democratic staff of the Senate Finance Committee and, while in private practice at a Washington law firm, represented pro bono Jeremiah Wright’s Trinity United Chuch against charges from the IRS that it was abusing its tax-exempt status.
The inspector general’s report released in mid May indicates that that Wilkins’s office was notified of the agency’s inappropriate targeting of conservative groups as early as August 2011, but the IRS has said that Wilkins did not participate in that meeting. White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters that Wilkins did not inform the White House of the discrimination against conservative groups, and it remains unclear when Wilkins was made aware of the discrimination if his staff did not inform him shortly after the August 2011 meeting occurred.