Saturday, June 01, 2013

Report: Former IRS Commissioner May Not Have Visited White House 157 Times

When the Daily Caller first revealed that White House visitor logs revealed that former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman had made 157 visits to the White House from 2009 to 2012, it naturally caught the attention of congressional investigators. That number was much higher than even most political appointees, including all Cabinet members, and particularly alarming given that the IRS Commissioner runs what's supposed to be an independent agency free from political interference.

The White House sought to deflect attention from the disclosure by noting that Shulman was a Bush appointee. Questioned about the visits by congressional investigators, Shulman did not dispute the number. Instead, he made a flippant response explaining the purpose of the visits. "Um, the Easter Egg Roll with my kids," Shulman said with a smirk. In a remarkable shift, the White House is now claiming that White House visitor logs are not reliable. Huh?

The liberal website, Atlantic, published a story yesterday claiming that Shulman may have actually only visited the White House 11 times and calling the 157 visit claim "a fake story." As the Daily Caller notes, the Atlantic offered no source for that number; however, White House senior advisor Daniel Pfeiffer quickly tweeted, "Def worth a read." The Atlantic  claimed that White House logs include names of persons cleared to attend meetings at the White House, not actual visitors. Reporters knew the White House logs did not include every single person who visited the President or a member of his staff, but there had never been any hint that a person's name could appear on the list who never actually visited. The list, for example, does not include names of persons who visit the First Family as "purely personal guests." Attendees of highly sensitive meetings are not always disclosed. The Atlantic noted that Shulman's name never appeared on the visitor logs for attending the White House Easter Egg Roll

The Daily Caller attempted to get further clarification from the White House on the Atlantic report but received no response. When questioned by reporters during a daily briefing, Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest didn't dispute the 157 visit number first reported by the DC. Instead, he stuck to the President's meme that he's committed to transparency and that most of the visits likely related to Obamacare. This is precisely the type of thing that breeds so much distrust among discerning observers, which doesn't include most mainstream reporters who seem to brush off inconsistency in official accounts in a cavalier fashion. There's a big difference between 157 and 11 visits. The fact that Shulman himself didn't dispute the number while testifying under oath should be far more conclusive than this unsourced Atlantic report, which was clearly planted by a pro-administration reporter. Yet it will suffice for the comfort of most mainstream reporters. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

And by the way, it just happens that Shulman's wife works for Public Campaign, a liberal campaign finance reform group funded by AFSCME, SEIU, AFL-CIO and Curtailing the influence of conservative groups is central to its agenda.

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