Former IRS commissioner's 118 visits to White House between 2010 and 2011 raise questions

Published: Thursday, May 30 2013 4:09 p.m. MDT

In this Jan. 26, 2012 file photo, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Douglas Shulman testifies on on Capitol Hill in Washington.

J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press

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According to a tally by The Washington Examiner, former Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Douglas Shulman visited the White House at least 118 times between 2010 and 2011, far more than any other high-ranking official.

Shulman and the IRS have come under fire this month after IRS officials admitted that the organization had been unfairly targeting tea party and other conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. Shulman, who led the IRS at the time, told Congress that he knew little about the targeting when he was in charge.

An inspector general's report indicated that the IRS targeting began in March 2010 and lasted for more than 18 months.

According to a Daily Caller visit breakdown, Attorney General Eric Holder visited the White House 62 times, former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner 48 times, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius 48 times, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano 34 times, former Energy Secretary Steven Chu 22 times and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates 17 times.

The second-highest number of visits came from acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank, who visited 86 times.

However, as The Washington Post cautions on its White House visitor database, the log may exclude visits by members of Congress, top officials and others who are not required to sign in at security gates.

Even so, John Steele Gordon argued at Commentary that the number of visits raises questions.

"The commissioner of Internal Revenue is a managerial position, not a policymaking one, although his input on the practical realities of tax collection and how the IRS s structured might well be very useful if the president was planning a big push on tax reform," Gordon wrote. "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?"

While testifying before the House Oversight Committee on May 22, Shulman said he hadn't discussed IRS targeting during White House visits, and that his visits were made as "a nonpartisan, nonpolitical person trying to implement the laws that were on the books.

"It would have been inappropriate and nobody ever asked me," he said.

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