white house smoke in the irs scandal? (updated--probably not)

(Compiled by and further discussed at The Daily Caller)

I'm with Sully on this: there are plenty of reasons to distrust The Daily Caller as a source. But they appear to be drawing from public records, and acknowledge the caveats of the data (specifically, that not all high-level visits to the White House are logged). And in any case, 150+ visits by the IRS commissioner to the White House seems like a hell of a lot in absolute terms; never mind how that actually compares with Eric Holder or Hillary Clinton.

This needs an explanation from the top. And soon.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan's readers are doing a pretty thorough job of dismantling this--or at least going a long way towards pointing out that The Daily Caller has (shockingly) skewed the data to cast the President in the worst possible light. To wit:
I shared the same concern regarding the disclosure of IRS Commissioner Shulman’s visits to the White House.  But they were quickly assuaged when I looked at the actual data, which can be downloaded here.  The correspondence from your reader on your updated post seems absolutely correct – looks like many (if not most) were about health care. I engaged in a cursory review of the first 20 or so Shulman entiries, and virtually all were with individuals involved with the health care reform proposal.  In particular, the contact for most of the initial meetings was Nancy-Ann Deparle, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, who was at the center of shaping health care reform.  One entry specifically notes that it was for the “bi-weekly health reform deputies meeting.”

I did not review all the entries, and it is conceivable that there are others that raise suspicions.  But the log make one thing very clear: “visiting the White House” does not mean a meeting with the president.  Typically, it means (and apparently did in Shulman’s case) meetings with policy wonks and other staff.  Given Shulman participation in such policy meetings, it is hardly surprising that he was there frequently, or that a lower-level official might be present at the White House far more often than a cabinet secretary.


Mr. D said...

The interesting question is who Shulman was meeting with. Shulman reports to the Treasury Secretary, and Geithner was at the White House considerably less than Shulman. That's pretty unusual.

Cherchez la femme, in this case Valerie Jarrett.

Brian said...

Indeed. Details matter.

There may be a perfectly reasonable explanation for this...such as extensive discussions of tax code revisions pursuant to budget negotiations last year. I sincerely hope that (or something like that) is the case, and not just because Obama is "my guy", but because I don't want any president using the IRS as a political cudgel.

In any case, there is really no reason the purpose(s) of Shulman's visits cannot be disclosed to the public at length. It isn't as though it's a matter of national security...

Bike Bubba said...

Sullivan's point about the meetings being about health care might or might not explain it when one considers exactly who was appointed to head the IRS group overseeing Obamacare.

The exact same person who was responsible for the group harassing Tea Party activists and others, of course. So pointing out that the man came to discuss healthcare--and then, ahem, apparently misled Congress when asked about the purpose of his visits--doesn't necessarily get anyone off the hook here.

Brian said...

Evidence or go home.

Bike Bubba said...

Here you go.


Doesn't prove that all of those visits were about wrongdoing, of course, but hopefully someone more prominent than I asks the obvious questions.

Brian said...

Doesn't prove that all of those visits were about wrongdoing,

It proves nothing, as far as I can tell. It barely passes the bar of circumstantial.

Also, please see the post above.

Bike Bubba said...

Not only have I read it, I commented on it on my site, along with a link to a portion of Shulman's sworn testimony where he concedes being at the White House a lot, and a few questions that come to mind for me. Suffice it to say that it raises far more questions than it answers for me.