Did Obama and IRS Union Boss Talk Tea Party? WH Won’t Say
(CNSNews.com) – The head of the National Treasury Employee Union (NTEU), which represents employees of the Internal Revenue Service, met with President Barack Obama in the White House one day before the manager of the IRS’s “Technical Unit” suggested establishing a “Sensitive Case Report” for the tax-exempt status applications of Tea Party groups, according to data from the official White House visitor log and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
The White House visitor log shows that NTEU President Colleen Kelley met with Obama--“POTUS,” President of the United States--on March 31, 2010.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report on the IRS's targeting of the tax-exempt applications of Tea Party groups for heightened scrutiny includes a "Comprehensive Timeline of Events" that outlines the IRS actions in this matter over the course of more than two years. The fourth item in this timeline says that on “April 1-2, 2010,” the "new Acting Manager, Technical Unit, suggested the need for a Sensitive Case Report on the Tea Party cases. The Determinations Unit Program Manager agreed.”
In a May 20 article, The American Spectator’s Jeffrey Lord first noted the chronological proximity of Obama's meeting with the NTEU's Collins (based on the White House log) and the action by the manager of the IRS's Technical Unit, based on the IG report.
At 11:03 a.m. Monday, CNSNews.com e-mailed the White House press office, referencing the March 31, 2010 meeting between Kelley and Obama: “Did they discuss tea party groups or other conservative groups in any context?”
CNSNews.com also called the White House press office immediately and confirmed that it had received the e-mailed question.
As the White House press briefing was ending on Monday, CNSNews.com asked White House Press Secretary Jay Carney as he was leaving the podium, “Did the Treasury union chief talk about tea parties during her meeting with the president in March 2010?”
Carney did not respond.
Later on Monday afternoon, CNSNews.com again e-mailed the White House press office and Carney, with the same question sent earlier in the day. CNSNews.com also called the White House press office and confirmed that it had received the e-mailed question.
However, neither the press office nor Carney responded before this story was posted.
CNSNews.com also called the NTEU, twice, and was transferred to its press office voicemail; the same question was left on the voicemail but the union did not respond before this story was posted.
Starting in 2010, according to the IG report, the IRS targeted for heightened scrutiny the tax-exempt-status applications of organizations with words such as “tea party,” “patriot,” and “9/12” in their filings. After that, according to the IG, the IRS “allowed inappropriate criteria to be developed and stay in place for 18 months."
The first item in the IG's timeline of these events is a Feb. 25, 2010 "email." But the timeline does not say who sent this email to whom, nor does it reveal the substance of the email.
The second item in the IG's timeline, sourced to an interview, came about four days later, "Around March 1, 2010."
"The Determinations Unit Group Manager asked a specialist to search for other Tea Party or similar organizations' applications in order to determine the scope of the issue," says this item in the timeline. "The specialist continued to complete searches for additional cases until the precursor to the BOLO [be on the lookout] listing was issued in May 2010."
The third item in the IG's timeline, sourced to an email, is dated March 16-17, 2010: “Ten Tea Party cases were identified. The Acting Manager, Technical Unit, requested two more cases be transferred to Washington D.C.”
Then comes the IG's timeline, which is also sourced to "email," and is dated April 1-2, 2010.
"The new Acting Manager, Technical Unit, suggested the need for a Sensitive Case Report on the Tea Party cases," it says. "The Determination Unit Program Manager agreed."
The next item on the IG's timeline, dated April 5, is sourced to an email. But the timeline does not say who exchanged the email--even what their titles were--or what these unidentified emailers were discussing.
NTEU President Kelley is a former IRS Revenue Agent, according to the NTEU website. She was first elected to the job in August 1999, after a four-year term as national executive vice president. She was re-elected to a fourth term in August 2011.
The IRS is one of several federal departments and agencies whose employees are represented by the union. On its website, the union cites some of its IRS victories. For example, it: “Launched a successful campaign to cancel the IRS private tax collection program.” It also: “Saw the files work returned to Internal Revenue Service employees at seven service centers after years of opposition.”
The NTEU Political Action Committee contributed $547,812 to Democratic congressional candidates in the 2012 election cycle and $24,000 to Republican congressional candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which monitors money in politics. Individual IRS employees contributed $67,204 to the PAC since 2008, according to the center.
Last week, a reporter asked Obama at a news conference: “Mr. President, I want to ask you about the IRS. Can you assure the American people that nobody in the White House knew about the agency’s actions before your Counsel’s Office found out on April 22nd? And when they did find out, do you think that you should have learned about it before you learned about it from news reports as you said last Friday?”
Obama did not directly respond to the question of whether someone in the White House knew about the IRS abuse, but said no one was aware of the IG report.
“I can assure you that I certainly did not know anything about the IG report before the IG report had been leaked through the press,” Obama said. “Typically, the IG reports are not supposed to be widely distributed or shared. They tend to be a process that everybody is trying to protect the integrity of. But what I'm absolutely certain of is that the actions that were described in that IG report are unacceptable.”
Before that, Obama told reporters, “Well, let me take the IRS situation first. I first learned about it from the same news reports that I think most people learned about this.”